Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Marvel Superheroes Assemble at Scottrade Center

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Marvel Superheroes Assemble at Scottrade Center

Article excerpt

Randy Foster has his dream job. The company manager for "Marvel Universe Live!" has been a Marvel fan for as long as he can remember, starting with the X-Men and Thor comics that his dad loved.

Now he travels the country to work on the first arena show featuring the superheroes he grew up with.

"Marvel superheroes, and superheroes in general, are America's mythology," Foster said in a phone interview as he was traveling between Columbus, Ohio, and Memphis, Tenn. "We have Thor, Iron Man and Spider-Man. They are superhumans. They will last as long as the myths."

The live-action show, which comes to Scottrade Center this weekend, brings these superhumans to life. Favorite heroes fight famous villains for the powerful Cosmic Cube (aka the Tesseract that has appeared in several Marvel movies). The production features 25 iconic characters and surrounds them with high-tech visuals, motorcycle stunts and aerial tricks.

Feld Entertainment, which also produces Disney on Ice and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey shows, brought in Shanda Sawyer to create, direct and co-write "Marvel Universe Live!" With her past experience, including circus shows with Feld, "The World's Greatest Stunts" and the 69th Academy Awards, Sawyer knows how to do large- scale productions.

She didn't have a childhood connection to superheroes, but once Sawyer immersed herself in their world, she understood the appeal of them.

"The beauty of these characters is they speak to us as humans," Sawyer said by phone last month from Los Angeles. "They are wonderfully flawed. Who hasn't felt like the Hulk some days?"

Sawyer consulted Joe Quesada, Marvel's chief creative officer, when she was writing the arena show. "He has an encyclopedic knowledge," she said of Quesada. "He made sure the story was true to the present incarnations of the characters."

Foster says Marvel and parent company Disney have done a remarkable job of giving each branch its own personality. "I really love that the movies focus on worldwide catastrophes," he said. …

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