Marvel Universe Live at Intrust Bank Arena
Erika Keck doesn’t mind if you root to see her pummeled, shot or thrown from a high platform. After all, villains get to take some of the coolest falls in Marvel Universe Live, which plays at Intrust Bank Arena from Thursday through April 17.
“I personally love playing all the bad guys,” Keck said. “I like to think I make the heroes look good.”
Promoters describe Marvel Universe Live as a comic book/action movie come to life. The show features Spider-man, the Avengers and other characters, special effects, pyrotechnics, aerial stunts, motorcycles and more.
“The show is one of the most exciting things you can come and see,” Keck said.
Keck arrived in Wichita with the rest of the cast and crew on Monday, biding her time while the latter worked to ready the arena. It’s a big production with 50 cast members, 27 trucks full of equipment and several hundred tons of rigging that must be lifted onto the arena ceiling.
“Our crew work super hard to do that,” Keck said.
Keck is a native of Summerville, Penn., near Pittsburgh, who graduated from Clarion University with a communications degree, then quickly began pursuing her goal of becoming a stunt woman. She completed a four-week program at the International Stunt School in Seattle, where she spent 8-10 hours six day a week learning to survive fights, falls and standard stunts such as the Air Ram, a pneumatic device that flings a performer into the air from below.
“It’s just the basics,” she said. “They don’t help you get into the stunt world, but it is a wonderful program to get started on.”
Keck’s affinity for physical action started early.
“When I was young, I would watch Jackie Chan movies,” she said. “My mom would see me off to the side doing Jackie Chan moves after every movie. I was the person literally climbing up the walls like Spider-man.”
One time, she tried to run a rope from her house to a tree and use it, Laura Croft style, as a zipline. She competed in basketball, soccer and track in high school and continued to high jump in college.
She joined the Mavel show about a year ago. In it, Keck spends most of her time fighting, while wearing customes that weight up to 15 pounds, and eventually losing to heroes.
“Everybody fights everybody in the show. Nobody’s risking injuries, but there are falls we have to take that would be tough for someone who doesn’t know how. We’re hitting the floor pretty hard sometimes.”
At one point in the second half, she falls about 18 feet, which she described as “not high.”
Not surprisingly, Keck and other cast members take care of their bodies. She was planning a trip to a local gym Wednesday.
“We’re always trying to find things to do to keep up our physical abilities,” she said. “Some do dance classes, some do yoga.”
Outside of work, she’s a big fan of action movies and enjoys drawing and working out.
The Marvel tour has Keck taken to New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto, Denver and other North American cities and soon heads overseas.
“Probably after that I will try to start my career in the film world,” she said.
Keck’s goals include more conventional ones such as marriage, children and grandchildren. She jokes that she’ll have to be good at her job to survive long enough to enjoy the latter.
“I have a boyfriend back home who I miss very much, but it is what it is,” she said. “I want this career so much.”
Marvel Universe Live
Where: Intrust Bank Arena, 500 E. Waterman
When: 7 p.m. April 14-15, 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. April 16, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. April 17
Tickets: available at selectaseat.com, at Intrust Bank Arena or by calling 1-855-755-7328