The Maverick Theater reopened its doors Friday, April 30 with its first performance since its closure in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The theater chose to open with an 80-minute comic book reading of three issues of “The Amazing Spider-Man” using voice actors and foley artists to animate each scene into real life.
Five artists voiced characters in the comic book and two created sound effects throughout the reading. Each artist brought in dynamic elements making a compelling welcome-back indoor show.
As the show began, darkness fell over the crowd and the remaining light illuminated the performers on stage. A large screen above the stage projected comics of “The Amazing Spider-Man,” flipping through the pages for the audience to watch as the performers read on.
“I feel so strong and powerful like I’m Spider-Man for a second,” Paul Zelhart said.
Zelhart played the main hero Spider-Man, diving right into the role. In a scene where Peter Parker slapped his face in disappointment, Zelhart slapped his face simultaneously.
“I forgot how much muscle it takes to voice a character for hours. The in-person energy is unmatchable, you can’t get it through Zoom,” Zelhart added.
Several voice artists played more than one character. For example, Kalinda Gray voiced all the female characters. Gray switched voices between mother, daughter, Mary Jane and her friend in nearly the same breath and with ease.
The crowd was most engaged when she voiced the elderly women in the script and laughed hysterically. If Gray was curtained, the audience might have thought she was truly an older woman.
Steve Biggs, Enrique Munoz Jr. and Brian Cook played the remaining male characters in the comic book, also switching between voices to meet character demand.
During a scene where the villain King Pin momentarily defeated Spider-Man, Munoz turned to the audience, making eye contact as he said, “I… am… King… Pin…,” with a monstrous yet comical tone. The crowd erupted in laughter.
Jon Gaw and Miranda Seighman were responsible for creating sound effects to enhance the comic reading. Both stood on stage and made sounds at the precise moments needed to bring every scene to life.
As Jameson flipped through his newspaper, Seighman flipped through a real newspaper in front of a microphone. When Spiderman swung through the air, Gaw swung a microphone tied to the end of a stick, producing the “whoosh” sound effect.
The most crowd startling sound effects produced by Gaw and Seighman were the blanks used in a real gun to produce gunshots and a taser to make a laser noise during the action scenes.
“It’s really touching because we’ve been so deprived of the regular things in our lives,” Producer and Director Brian Newell said.
With the pandemic coming closer to its end, Newell described the comic reading as getting back to some normalcy in a post-pandemic world.
However, the theater was still cautious. Masks were required, only parties that came together were grouped together and the theater was limited capacity. All performers were fully vaccinated.
Aside from limited capacity and masks, the show appeared unaltered by the COVID-19 pandemic and its safety protocols. The crowd laughed throughout the performance and applauded the event.
The Maverick Theater has several more comic book readings throughout the month of May. For more information or to buy tickets, visit the theater’s website.