ODT ‘In Concert’ brings superheroes to life

February 19, 2019 | 3:31 am

Updated February 19, 2019 | 9:18 am

ODT company members and extras, performing as water, preparing for "Superhero Showdown." | Photo by Owensboro Times

Owensboro Dance Theatre artistic director Joy Johnson wanted to do something completely different this year to showcase the high school seniors who have choreographed their own performance, presented in two acts. So she asked choreographer and dancer Marcus Alford to write an original story and dance program centered around superheroes. After brainstorming ideas and working with RiverPark Center employees on what could work on the stage, Alford began planning.  

He wrote down famous superheroes whose personalities and characteristics he could rebrand. Taking licensing and trademark issues into consideration, he decided to include heroes from the ancient world. He also created new heroes, one of those being Overload who can summon energy — and lose it. He then created a nemesis for each hero, designing a story within the story of the entire second act.

“The five good and the five bad battle each other,” Alford said. “But we need a leader.”

Four of the leads in “Superhero Showdown.” | Photo by Owensboro Times

Alford, who recently sold his dance studio in Georgia to move to Florida, said he is not a writer. Since the whole program is a new work — with speaking parts included — Alford relied on his high school-aged dance students in Florida to bounce ideas off for “about four to five hours a week.”  He now believes he has found what he considers to be the perfect storm of characters and action that will all play out well for the audience.

Once Alford created the storyline, he worked with his wife, dancer Annie Day, to get the music for the performance.

“It is the easiest but hardest thing to do,” Alford said about the song choices because they have to relate to the characters.

In the ODT Superhero Showdown, the audience will see Web Boy tap dance, hear techno-funk music from Europe and witness Kleopatra dancing to Fergie, along with several pop hits with thematic choreography.

Rehearsals for the spring show began in January at Johnson’s Dance Studio, the home school for ODT. Then intensive weekend sessions were held with Alford and three visiting choreographers, all of whom dance in the show. 

Costume rehearsal for water, part of “Superhero Showdown.” | Photo by Owensboro Times

“It has to mesh,” Alford said, adding that this show will be different because Anne Welsh and Thaddeus Mayhugh are two main characters who speak about the superheroes on stage.

“And the costumes — the costumes are incredible,” Alford said. “It’s really neat what Anne has done.”

Those who attend ODT productions have come to expect dancers “flying” in ODT productions, and he said they will not be disappointed during the showdown. There are also fight scenes and “big” numbers where 70 dancers are on stage and spectacular 3D backdrops that look like a comic book where the characters visually come to life, Alford said.

“There is huge kid involvement in this show, which is different from other shows where they are playing kids, because in here they are playing characters,” Alford said.

There are also more leads in this show — at least 10, Alford said.

“I’m glad that Owensboro is always willing to take a risk. It is hard to convince companies to do it…they very rarely want to step out of the box. But Joy is always ready,” Alford said of the ODT director, adding that Owensboro’s audience kind of expects it to be “the best one they’ve ever done.”

“This one is unique,” Alford said. “I think there is more actual dancing instead of storyline, which is important, but you will see it evolve through the characterization of the superhero…It’s like a cerebral ballet.”

Alford said he also wants attendees to know that no one gets killed, their powers are just diminished. This is important to Alford.

The two school performances of “Superhero Showdown” will be Friday, March 15 at 9:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

Friday night, the Big Bang Bash will be held at RiverPark Center from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. This event includes dinner, dancing, games, contests and photos with superheroes.

Saturday is the 7 p.m. public performance of “In Concert featuring Superhero Showdown” at the RiverPark Center.

Tickets range in price from $15 to $38 with student pricing available and can be purchased here.

February 19, 2019 | 3:31 am

Share this Article

Other articles you may like