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Super brawl: Marvel heroes fight forces of evil at Barclays Center

Changing of the guard: The actors playing the Guardians of the Galaxy in “Marvel Universe Live!” show at Barclays Center wear full-body costumes, stilts, and plenty of makeup to play their roles.
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He’s just a god from Brooklyn.

The Norse god Thor will do battle with his villainous brother Loki at Barclays Center next week, alongside a longbox-worth of Marvel superheroes and their foes, including Spider-Man, the Green Goblin, Brooklyn kid Captain America, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Doctor Strange. The live-action show “Marvel Universe Live: Age of Heroes,” running for nine performances starting on Feb. 25, is so filled with stunts, action, and special effects that it leaves the Marvel films behind, said the Bedford-Stuyvesant actor who portrays the God of Thunder.

“There’s a lot of combat, a lot of cool special effects. It’s a stunt show — if anything, it’s more like an action movie, but live in front of you,” said Gjermund Gjesme, who grew up in Norway, just like the mythical character he plays. He moved to the borough of Kings in 2014, after two years in the Norwegian military — a job he said helped prepare him for his onstage fights.

“It definitely helps with my mental toughness, being able to be fierce and ready to deal with how hard it is to rehearse a production like this,” he said. “But I thought in my mind, if I’m getting a role in this production, it’ll be Thor.”

To portray the stormy deity, Gjesme must don an elaborate, colorful costume that enhances his already impressive physique — but which makes the action a little more difficult, he said.

“I have a muscle suit, helmet, and cape — it makes it extra challenging to perform the stunts, but it makes it look even cooler if you can do it,” said Gjesme.

During the show, Thor and his buddies team up to wrestle control of a mystical McGuffin back from Loki, the God of Mischief, who plans to use its power to rule the world. The super-battles include a large ensemble of battle fighters, who wear about 100 outfits between them, according to costume designer Mark Koss. The superheroes’ super-sized bodies made dressing them a special challenge, said Koss.

“One of the really difficult and wonderful parts of this show was how to create costumes that really could be active and move, are really durable and cool for audience members to watch,” he said. “They aren’t humans and therefore don’t have human proportions.”

Rocket Raccoon and Groot, from the Guardians of the Galaxy, are the shortest and tallest characters in the show, respectively, and the producers put the characters on stage next to each other to emphasize their size differences, Koss said.

“We tried to find the shortest actor we could to play Rocket and then dealt with the proportions,” said Koss, who added that Groot towers eight feet high thanks to two-foot stilts built into his outfit. “Rocket is always next to Groot to make Rocket feel shorter and Groot feel taller.”

“Marvel Universe Live!” at Barclays Center (620 Atlantic Ave. at Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights, www.barclayscenter.com). Feb. 22–24 at 7 pm, Feb. 23–24 at 11 am and 3 pm, Feb. 25 at noon and 4 pm. $19–$120.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Posted 12:00 am, February 19, 2018
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