Gotham City comes to life in the arena show “Batman Live,” opening Wednesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The show, which will have eight performances from Wednesday through Sunday, features stunts, pyrotechnics, illusions and video screen sequences set in a three-dimensional Gotham City landscape.
Jack Walker, who plays Batman in the show, says suiting up as the Caped Crusader fulfills a childhood fantasy.
“I don't think there's any permutation of Batman that I missed,” Walker said in a telephone interview promoting “Batman Live.”
“Definitely my favorite comics as a kid, the Batman comics,” he said. “I loved the dramatics and darkness of the artwork. I loved the TV show as well, which I can only see now with hindsight how tongue in cheek it was. All the different movies, different manifestations of Batman, it's just great. I've followed it and been a fan, a genuine fan, from childhood.”
Walker, who is from London, has been portraying Batman across Europe. The show came to the United States in September, with dates in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, among others.
“It's great to be doing this, playing such an iconic character,” Walker said. “You really get to do the whole vicarious enjoyment thing, being out there. The way the show is, you really feel like you're in a movie or something, you're in a fantasy, and you're Batman. And everything is geared to make you pull that off. So it's a lot of fun.”
Before the fun came an arduous audition process, as Walker had to prove to the Warner Bros. powers that be that he had the right stuff to be Batman.
“It took a while, and I think necessarily so,” he said. “I took flight tests, to make sure I wouldn't pass out or get scared of heights.”
After passing the rigorous tests, Walker was able to don the Batman suit to play the masked hero.
“The suit itself, you kind of use it as a tool to do the character, because it's so much a part of it,” Walker said. “You find the physicality with the suit, you're kind of working together. It's almost its own entity, the suit.”
Walker said those who attend won't just feel like they're attending a performance. The arena show is geared to make the fans feel involved in the event.
“That's the enjoyment you get out of it, from watching a superhero go and do their thing. You feel like you're kind of part of it,” Walker said. “ ... The way it's all set up and the whole aesthetic of it makes you feel a part of it, as the audience. You're in Gotham City, and so from the moment you enter the arena, until the end, you feel like you're just a part of the whole story. And hopefully you'll be rooting for Batman! So you feel like his victory is your victory.”