Tulsa-raised writer brings 'Batman' to the stage
BY JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
Sunday, December 09, 2012
12/09/12 at 5:05 AM
For more Visit the official Batman Live website.
Many will not recognize his name, but they'll definitely recognize (and relate to) his storylines.
Tulsa-raised Allan Heinberg has written and produced for hit television series "Sex and the City," "Party of Five," "Gilmore Girls," "Grey's Anatomy," "The O.C." and "The Naked Truth."
Despite his television success, writing the story for the world-touring "Batman Live" arena show has been a "dream come true."
Two years in the offing, "Batman Live" tells the story of how a young boy becomes Batman's right-hand man as he helps save Gotham City from an onslaught of nearly every DC villain imaginable.
"I've always loved the characters, from my earliest days growing up in Tulsa," the Booker T. Washington High School graduate said during a recent telephone interview. "To do a live action production of Robin's origin and a 'supertheatrical' setting is probably the most unique and challenging thing I could ever imagine doing."
How he got into comic book writing was unplanned but welcome. Back in 2003-2005, while writing for "The O.C.," "We decided to shape the Seth Cohen character (Adam Brody) into a music and comic book fan," he said.
"My entrance into writing for comic books was through my television work," he said. "Those episodes got the attention of Marvel and DC Comics."
Soon thereafter, he wrote an award-winning "Young Avengers" series for Marvel Comics and a five-issue arc of DC Comics' "Justice League of America."
Heinberg introduced the first gay characters into his "Young Avengers" series, which won him the 2005 GLAAD Media Award and a 2006 Harvey Award for Best New Series.
"I'm gay," he said matter-of-factly. "Writing stories about relatable characters has helped me heal in my creative life. ... I struggled as a teenager, as I'm sure many of us have."
Marvel supported Heinberg's decision to include the characters, he said. "It's not an issue. I'm just telling the entire storyline. It's there."
In 2010, he was asked to read a draft of "Batman Live." Soon, he'd rewritten the script with the story of Robin's origin, including a list of the villains the producers wanted in the show. Heinberg even added a couple more - Scarecrow and Poison Ivy.
"Villains are a huge part of the story," he said of the script development. "The Joker is sort of the 'star villain,' as to not overwhelm the narrative."
Even so, he was surprised to witness the crowd response to the first live shows - audiences applauded the entrance of every character, especially the bad guys.
"They are a huge part of all the original comic books and 'Batman' television shows," he said. "They add depth - and levity - to the storylines. They're as important as the heroes."
Rumors say Heinberg is also developing a new "prequel" Wonder Woman script for the CW network in partnership with Warner Bros. TV and DC Comics, tentatively titled "Amazon," reports New York Magazine's entertainment site The Vulture.
He wouldn't confirm the rumor but did say he'll be "hard at work through the holidays" on two new projects, hour-long dramas for the CW and ABC networks.
Phil Jimenez, DC comics' "Wonder Woman" writer and illustrator from 2000-2003, told The Huffington Post, "... If anyone can manage the commercial needs of television as well as the tonal essentials of joy, hope, and empowerment-through-action that make Wonder Woman 'Wonder Woman,' it's Heinberg." (Heinberg also wrote for the "Infinite Crisis" series of "Wonder Woman" comic books in the mid-2000s.)
In recent days, The New York Observer also reported that the possible TV show's added a producer and a casting director, too. This may be cart-before-the-horse hopefulness, as Entertainment Weekly reports that no pilot episode has been ordered. Ah, Hollywood.
Regardless of what he's writing and/or producing, whether it's TV melodrama or Broadway action, Heinberg says there is always one constant that everyone can relate to.
"The story core has to be emotional, and revolve around relationships and families," he said. "All my work is centered on that premise. Allowing people into your life in profound and different ways is what drives humanity. At the core, it's very personal."
‘Batman Live’ review
"Batman Live" is a blend of live action, animation, wraparound sound and 3-D Gotham landscape, pyrotechnics, classic comic book visuals and acrobatic virtuosity.
During a recent performance in Oklahoma City, young boys and girls scooted to the edges of their seats, many dressed in the costumes of their favorite DC Comics stars, as they and parents alike applauded every action scene and every entrance of the dozen-plus villains.
This original story by Tulsa-raised Allan Heinberg tells the tale of how billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne meets Dick Grayson, and how Batman joins forces with the Boy Wonder to fight a crime spree to destroy Gotham City, spawned by evildoers including The Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, Riddler, Harley Quinn, Miss Crystal Frost and eight silver-sequined beauties, Two Face, Poison Ivy, Tony Zucco and more.
At its core, "Batman Live" is a story of family, friendship, love, loss and redemption, interspersed with high-flying action scenes from locations including the Batcave, Haly's Circus, Gotham City, Wayne Manor, Iceburg Lounge, an insane asylum and more. A screen the width of the arena flashes high-res images of the city, mansion and other locations with the drama of an in-depth comic book read.
More than 40 actors and circus-trained acrobats combine with Hollywood-style special effects and an original symphonic score to create a tale told on many levels - visually, with dialogue and from the heart.
- Jennifer Chancellor, World Scene Writer
If you go ...
Ride the North Pole Express
Grapevine Vintage Railroad, 705 S. Main St.
This one-hour train experience in Grapevine, Texas, includes Santa, a Christmas tree maze, holiday music, ornament-making, caroling and more. Tickets start at $18. Children age 2 and younger are free with each parent ticket purchase. Runs Dec. 14-16 and 21-23. Learn more and purchase advance tickets at tulsaworld.com/grapevineexpress
Where to shop in Dallas
Named as one of the 7 Retail Wonders of the Modern World, North Park shopping center offers a shopping experience like nothing else. The 1.2-million-square-foot mall includes art from Andy Warhol, Mark di Suvero, Frank Stella and others, and movies, eats and shops from Armani Exchange to LEGO. Located at 8687 North Central Expressway, Dallas. For more information, visit tulsaworld.com/northpark or call 214-363-7441.
Also worth seeing
"It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" runs through Dec. 16 at WaterTower Theatre at the Addison Theatre Centre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison, Texas (north of Dallas). Performed as a 1940s live radio broadcast in front of a studio audience, five actors play the dozens of characters as well as produce the sound effects bringing to life the town of Bedford Falls. Tickets are $30, available at tulsaworld.com/towertheatre and by calling 972-450-6232.
Where to stay
The Dallas Marriott City Center, 650 N. Pearl St., Dallas, offers a special "Performing Arts Package at Dallas Marriott City Center" that includes free valet parking, breakfast for two, deluxe accommodations and a local map. Rates start at $189. Use promo code E0N. Senior, military and AAA discounts also available. Call 800-228-9290 or visit tulsaworld.com/marriottdallas
The Dallas-Fort Worth Embassy Suites at Outdoor World, 2401 Bass Pro Drive, Grapevine, Texas, offers a "Shoppers Spree Package" that includes a $50 gift card to the store of your choice and free transportation to Grapevine Mills Mall, a two-room suite and cooked-to-order breakfast. AARP offers include a savings of up to 10 percent off the best available rate. Plus, government and military and AAA discounts also available. Rooms start at $229. Call 972-724-2600 or visit tulsaworld.com/suitesdallas
'BATMAN LIVE' WORLD ARENA TOUR
When: Dec. 13-16
Where: American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Ave., Dallas
Tickets: All ages. Tickets start at $19.50, plus fees, available at tulsaworld.com/ticketmaster or call 800-745-3000.
Batman Live by the numbers
1. There have been more than 160 performances in 15 countries since July 2011, selling more than half a million tickets.
2. It takes two days to build the production in each arena.
3. The production travels in 20 53-foot tractor-trailer rigs.
4. Body sculpting for the Batman suit took more than 100 hours.
5. The Batmobile took about 16 weeks to build.
6. It takes four people 1 minute and 5 seconds to change Batman into Bruce Wayne.
Original Print Headline: Tulsan brings 'Batman' to stage
Jennifer Chancellor 918-581-8346
"Batman Live," a creative collaboration between Warner Bros. Consumer Products, DC Entertainment and Water Lane Productions, comes to the American Airlines Center in Dallas from Dec. 13-16. Courtesy