Preview of BATMANIA!

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Preview of BATMANIA!

Maddie Hawes, features writer

Holy show week Batman! BATMANIA! is an on stage spin-off of the original 1966 Batman movie. The show will debut on the KHS black box stage as the Freshman and Sophomore Play on Nov. 17-20. Kristi Gunther, director, compiled and staged the show specifically for the black box stage because the show has never been performed on stage before.

Gunther said that one day over the summer, her children were craving a Batman movie. The family then searched Batman on Netflix and settled down to watch the classic 1966 rendition. As the movie played, Gunther said she was wound up in a crazy thought.

“I started thinking about how this would be so much fun on stage,” Gunther said. “There [had] to be some way we [could] put this on stage.”

Gunther stuck to her “crazy” idea and contacted Mrs. Schnider, the head of KH Players, about her idea. Gunther looked into the rights and said she was shocked about how easy the process would be to parody the movie. She then proceeded with the parodying process; tweaking a few details to the screenplay and BATMANIA! was born.

One year later at the KH Players banquet where the 2016 show season was announced, Aidan Beasley, sophomore, was taken aback by a brief description of the show. When auditions rolled around in October he was first in line and ended up with a dream role, Batman.

“I love Batman to death,” Beasley said. “I’ve read a whole bunch of his comics, and I’ve watched all of the movies. I can’t believe I get to be up there with Ben Affleck and Christian Bale, and I get to be Batman.”

Beasley said the hardest component of being Batman in this show is differentiating the characteristics of Batman and his un-super life as Bruce Wayne because both are included in the show. Regardless of the chance to play a classic role, Beasley is also excited to be playing his first lead part in a play.

Gunther said her favorite part of the show is watching the kids develop each character as their own. She said the use of inspiration helps guide the portrayal of the heroes and villains in the show. Max Reinert, freshman, uses Jared Leto’s Joker from Suicide Squad for inspiration but also relies on his own imagination to create his rendition of the Joker in the show.

“I tried out, not the guy that played Joker in the Batman movie. I like to do stuff that I’m going to enjoy so if I make [a character] my own I’m going to like it better said Reinert. I feel more attachment to the kind of Joker [I play in the show] than any of the other ones made ever.”  Reinert said he was pleasantly surprised to receive the role as a freshman.

Many technical features in the show are new to the KH Players experience. The show will include projections of scenery and special effects in the background of select scenes. Also in the production, the cast will attempt to break the fourth wall. The fourth wall refers to the imaginary wall between the audience and stage that is usually never crossed in traditional plays. Gunther says the KHS black box theater is essential to this feature.

“The cool thing about the black box is the audience is so close to the action so we can do things a lot more subtly, and we can show faces that make a difference [compared to the Keating Theater],” Gunther said. “It makes a whole different style of humor.”

Ever since the “crazy” idea over the summer the stage production of BATMANIA! has been in the works. Gunther has retyped and reconstructed the script based on the feedback from the actors in the show. She said the show was adapted by her and the cast combined.

“Half of the show is [the casts’] because they made the jokes,” Gunther said.  “It’s right up [any high schooler’s] alley because it’s their humor and matches their demographic completely.”

The show will run November 17-20 at 7 p.m. each night. The seats in the black box have filled quick in the past so purchasing tickets early is advised. Tickets are $7 for students and children and $10 for adults. Tickets can be purchased before show nights here  or at the door until they are sold out. Now as the show is inching towards premiere week everyone is on edge according to Gunther.

“We bit off a lot with this show,” Gunther said. “Giant cast, crazy sets, we have projections, so many sound effects, stage combat, audience interaction, props in the audience and texting throughout the show. It’s crazy! There are so many elements to what makes this show work.”

Will the cast of BATMANIA! Be able to pull off this complicated production? Tune in at 7 p.m. on November 17-20 in the black box theater. Same bat seat. Same bat time.

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