Marvel Universe LIVE! is a full scale incredible stadium show of truly epic proportions. It brings together characters from across the Marvel Universe to save the world from Loki and the immeasurable perilous power of the Tesseract. Performers fly through the air. They are on motorcycles, flipping cars and engaging in incredibly choreographed fight scenes. Travelling to a city near you this is one show you won’t want to miss whether you’re a comic fan or a family ready for an adventure!!
As a former performer I was extremely intrigued to hear Madison Embrey’s experience on the show. Embrey plays Agent Maria Hill of S.H.I.E.L.D. and although she is void of any superhuman powers she kicks butt right along side characters like Captain America and Iron Man. Here is a little bit about the show from her perspective!
Milly: How did you find out about Marvel Universe LIVE!?
I was in my last year of school at Pace University in New York City. My roommate was called into the audition by her agency and after reading the audition notice, thought I’d be a great fit, too. I come from fifteen years of dance training as my background, and was taking Stage Combat and Aerial Arts as electives at the time, so it seemed like it could be a good match!
Milly: What was the audition process like?
It was one of my favorite auditions I’ve ever attended. It felt more like a master class than it did a nerve-racking experience. I walked into a room where the DIRECTOR of the entire project was sitting. It’s very rare that you get to work with the director in your audition. Upon showing a pass of tumbling skills, I was asked to attend the call back, which was a fight call. Everyone in the room came from different backgrounds; there were martial artists, dancers, aerialists, stuntmen, actors- it was such an inspiring room to be in. Here we were taught an INTENSE stage combat fight, which once executed properly, had acting and lines layered on top. It was all about kindly taking direction and being larger than life. They were looking for SUPERHEROES! Upon performing the fight with my partner, I was asked to stay and read for “Maria Hill”. By this point in the audition, I was so excited I could barely see straight. As I was leaving the audition and shaking everyone’s hands, I knew these were people I wanted to work with again.
Milly: Where were you when you found out you booked the job?
I was at home in Michigan on winter break, and two days before Christmas I was offered the role of “Maria Hill” in Marvel Universe Live! Best Christmas gift ever! I’ll never forget sitting around the dinner table on Christmas and saying to my family, “I have some really exciting news to share- I booked my first job and am going on tour!”
Milly: Have you ever done anything like this before?
I have not done anything on this grand of a scale! I’ve been dancing and in the performing arts my entire life, but nothing this huge. It has been a dream of mine to perform in arenas for this many people. When I was 15 years old, I remember being very upset after I saw Miley Cyrus in concert because I knew we were the same age and are both very hard workers, yet she had the opportunity to perform for thousands of people every night, and I was at my dance studio in Michigan. My Mom told me that if I kept working hard, those opportunities would come my way in due time. That dream now comes true for me every single time I perform this show!
Milly: Did you know much about Maria Hill before rehearsal? Did you read the comics? See the Movies?
I didn’t have much experience with Marvel Universe before taking this job. I had seen the Spiderman movies and fawned over Chris Evans as Captain America, but I wasn’t a “super fan”. However, in the last eight months, I’ve gotten hooked on The Avengers comics, watched all the movies, and collected quite the little Marvel wardrobe!
So, I have to ask! What is your favorite piece of your new Marvel inspired wardrobe? Where can we get it?
I have an awesome black sweatshirt that has Captain America's shield on the front. It's perfect for our bus rides from city to city! I've had the most luck finding my Marvel gear in stores around the mall- it's everywhere right now!
Other than Maria Hill, who would you say is your favorite female Marvel character?
I love Black Widow. She can keep up with all the guys, but she has such a femininity about her. She knows how to fight, and even though she gives off a cold demeanor you know she'd have your back in a second if you were part of her team.
Milly: What was the rehearsal process like?
The rehearsal process was equal parts demanding and rewarding. We were on our feet working twelve-hour days, six days a week. If we weren’t learning new choreography or working on character development, we were training, running, climbing ropes, and tumbling. It was this schedule for three months straight, and I loved it.
Milly: What was it like mastering all of the stunts like? Looks hard!
There were many steps involved as we learned the stunts for this show. My big stunt in the show is jumping from my moving vehicle to the hood of another vehicle, swinging into the passenger seat, and buckling in before the car flips and explodes! No joke, the car flips and there’s a huge pyro explosion, once we’ve safely evacuated the car! Safety is our number one priority, so while you have to be fearless, you also have to be smart and ease yourself into it. After being padded from head to toe, I’d practice jumping from my car to the other while they were standing still. Then we’d have them slowly move, and I’d do the jump. Once I’d safely accomplished both of those steps, I just had to trust my technique, and when it was time to jump, I JUMPED! Once we had the moves down solid, we added the costumes and pyrotechnics. There are many steps involved in mastering these stunts, but our goal is to make them look effortless!
Milly: It looks like you guys are having a ton of fun up there! What is your favorite stunt or moment in the show?
The car flip is definitely my most exhilarating part of the show! I have some pretty awesome fight sequences in the show. I really love stage combat, and I have a blast fighting off the villains night after night. Those are the moments that truly make me feel like a hero!
Milly: If you could play any of the other characters regardless of gender, who would it be? Why?
I would love to play Captain America. He is the quintessential person and hero. He has good morals, he’s respectful, strong, caring, and just trying to do good. In our show, he does the most incredible motorcycle stunts I’ve ever witnessed, so I’d have to learn to ride a motorcycle first! But regardless of that, I think Captain America is the consummate superhero.
Milly: What is it like moving the show from city to city? That is one incredible set!
Our set is a beast, and our crew is incredible! We are currently the largest touring show in the United States at this time, and it is clear to see that if you’ve seen our set. We have over 100 cast and crew members and the show takes over 26 trucks to move from city to city. The load out process takes around ten hours, and it takes about two days to load the show into the venue. Our crew works endlessly to keep us safe whether we are on the ground driving cars or flying through the air.
Milly: Any favorite cities so far? Or maybe a city that was completely different than you thought it would be?
I LOVED Philadelphia and Washington DC. After living in New York City for four years, I knew I loved the city-vibe, but I also have a deep love for American History. Philadelphia and DC catered to both of those passions! Whenever I had a free minute, I was out exploring the monuments and museums. It’s so fun to make a new city your home each week.
Milly: What's it like being one of the only girls as a principal? Seems like a frat house up there!
There is definitely a lot of testosterone on this tour! Even though we are out numbered, us girls stick together! We aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty and go take boxing classes with the guys, but we’ll also have girls’ nights where we watch romantic comedies and eat Milano cookies! It’s a great mix of energies. We are all a huge family, and this bond helps our chemistry onstage, as well.
Milly: If all the sudden some biochemical was released into the air and it turned all the members of the Avengers against you, who would you give the antidote to first so they could help with the rest? Why?
Apparently I’m just a huge Captain America fan, but I would totally go with Cap! He oozes leadership! He also gives people the benefit of the doubt and lends them his trust, so I know if I needed help, he’d be on my side. He never justifies the means to get to his end goal, and I respect that. We’d get our fellow Avengers back the right way!
Marvel Universe LIVE! is coming to a town near you! For all the information about the show and tour dates/location please visit http://www.marveluniverselive.com !!! Enjoy this fun filled action packed show!!!
by Milly Millhauser