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July 30, 2014

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Photos: Holy roaring greasepaint! ‘Batman Live’ brings Caped Crusader to UNLV

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Leila Navidi

A technical rehearsal for “Batman Live” at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on Friday, August 31, 2012. The show will run at the Thomas & Mack Center from October 3-7.

'Batman Live' Rehearsal

Mark Frost performs as The Joker during a technical rehearsal for Launch slideshow »

The “Batman Live” touring stage show that plays at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center Oct. 3-7 is a far cry from the gritty reality of director Christopher Nolan’s popular “Batman” films of recent years.

Instead, it takes its cues from the larger-than-life camp of Tim Burton’s films of the 1990s and the delightful cheesiness of the original comic series. You can almost see the words “Pow!” and “Ka-boom!” accompany each dramatically choreographed fight scene.

Still, the show, which tells the story of how Batman came to be, sticks to a family-friendly — if not oversimplified — script and plotline free from guns and explicit violence.

Daren Libonati, president of Justice Entertainment Group who helped bring the production to Las Vegas, says the show is an ideal fit for the city’s burgeoning family-entertainment business. The focus with this show, however, is less on catering to Strip tourists and more to local families.

“I truly believe that family shows that come through Thomas & Mack are designed for families that live here and work hard every day and want to have that family-entertainment experience outside of what they do on a daily basis,” Libonati says, noting that tickets, which are $19 to $79, are suited for a variety of lifestyles and earnings.

“‘Batman’ may be the first time a 5-year-old sets foot on the UNLV campus, and that will be a memory they’ll have the rest of their life. This is something important for the community.”

The touring show encapsulates distinctive Las Vegas aspects of theatrical entertainment, including magic, percussive choreography and gravity-defying acrobatics in dazzling costumes. The production is more akin to the colorful whimsy of Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles “Love” show at the Mirage than a superhero movie.

“It shows how family entertainment is evolving,” Libonati says. “It used to be Ice Capades and stuffed animals on skates. Now it’s evolving into theatrical productions where you’re getting a bigger wow experience through technology and animation. Even though this show is touring the country, Las Vegas entertainment has left its mark in that way.”

Follow Andrea Domanick on Twitter at @AndreaDomanick and fan her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AndreaDomanick.

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