• What: Marvel Universe LIVE!
• When: Thursday, Nov. 5 to Sunday, Nov. 9.
• Where: Empire State Plaza, Downtown Albany
• How much: $29.95 and up
• Info: www.ticketmaster.com or call the Albany Times Union Center at 487-2000.
Marvel Universe Live is coming to Albany, Thursday, Nov. 5 to Sunday, Nov. 8.
The comic book franchise covering graphic novels, books, movies and cartoons is also into live performance. And, you can expect to see Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and villains too, invade Albany’s Times Union Center.
Last year, Business Insider cited that the comic book industry reached approximately $870 million worth of sales in a year where movie-goers enjoyed a dozen films based on those picture books you bought at the corner store.
In just the past month, major cities throughout the country have played host to comic book conventions. Events lasting multiple days, featuring books, toys, guest artists, television and movie stars. Tickets can garner upwards of $100, promising a chance to meet stars from one’s favorite show, and thousands of like-minded people. Leaving everyone to understand that today, it’s cool to like comics.
The live production set to hit the Times Union Center in a few weeks covers the storyline of the Cosmic Cube. Anyone who wields its power has the ability to shape reality itself. The promise of such power has attracted friends and foes, alike. More than 25 different Marvel Comics characters will reveal themselves in the upcoming production.
Actress Madison Embrey plays Special Agent Maria Hill, a high ranking official under the secretive law enforcement agency, S.H.I.E.L.D.
“It was such an honor to be chosen for such an iconic role, to be a part of such an iconic universe,” said Embrey, who earned the role last year, just a few months before graduating from Pace University. “To know that I went through the same character training [as the actors in the Hollywood films] and that the costumes are authentic, it’s so big to wrap my mind around what I’ve gotten myself into.”
Agent Hill fights alongside Captain America and the good guys, as they try to find the Cosmic Cube before it gets into the wrong hands. Much like the films, there are plenty of action sequences promised for the arena, including an appearance from The Incredible Hulk.
“From the get-go, audience members are waiting for [The Hulk],” said Embrey. “Every time Bruce [Banner] enters the stage, they wonder ‘Is it going to happen?’ … And, whenever it happens, it’s like their favorite rock star has entered the arena.”
In this live production, The Incredible Hulk stands at an astounding eight feet, five inches tall. There are four different prototypes in use during the tour. It’s an animatronic puppet, of sort, powered by two car batteries.
“I don’t know if it was a rehearsal or something, but I was on my feet, and I went to stand next to him and I was honestly scared for a moment,” said Embrey. “He is so big.”
The Hulk only represents a small portion of the amount of hardware and special effects incorporated into the live event. It takes more computer power to run the show’s projections – which virtually transports audience members around the world – than it does to power a space shuttle. That involves enough feed cables to run the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, twice. And, the amount of chains used to support the 1700 feet of truss work would be able to connect New York to New Jersey over the span of the George Washington Bridge.
“I say, I love Marvel, because these characters they are so relatable,” said Embrey, who admits to being a fan of action films and dystopian novels like the Hunger Games and Divergence. “I think that was something that I really liked about Hunger Games and Divergence, and those type of sci-fi dystopian novels, is the protagonist. The lead female is so courageous and brave. I really could align myself with that. But, after seeing Marvel and seeing characters like Maria Hill and the Black Cat, it almost seemed to me that the characters that I find myself liking from the Hunger Games and Divergence I think were influenced from Marvel.”
As Special Agent Hill, Embrey finds herself in a lot of fight sequences. The character herself is dark and quiet. She doesn’t possess artificial powers of strength, but what she does have is intelligence and confidence. “You don’t really get to see a lot of her in the movies, but I think she’ll start making more of an appearance in ‘Captain America: Civil War’ coming out. But, our show has done an amazing part by giving her this opportunity to have this big part.
Embrey, who previously aspired to become a Radio City Rockette while attending school, finds herself enamoured with a new venture in mind.
“It has been the most incredible, I won’t say transition, use of all my training,” she said. My degree is a bachelor of arts in commercial dance, and the idea of commercial dance is a way to use dance as a career. And, that’s exactly what I’ve done with myself with Marvel Universe Live! … I love the grittiness of the fighting. I love the passion behind it. I was at dance class last night, and I was explaining to the girls how dance works in theatre. When you can’t speak anymore, you sing. When you can’t sing any longer, to get the point across, you dance. And, that’s how it works in fighting, too. When you’re in an argument with someone and talking doesn’t work, you start yelling. And, when yelling doesn’t work, you start fighting. So, dancing and fighting both root from the same place: the passion. I somehow was able to learn how to do it, and I’ve loved every second. It’s definitely sparked a very new interest within me.”
Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.com. For more information, call the Albany Times Union Center at 487-2000.