HOLY racing car! HOLY racing car! This is the new Formula One-inspired Batmobile which is about to wow fans of the comic book superhero at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena, writes Graham Walker.
It has been created by F1 designer Professor Gordon Murray. But the big secret remains how it will zoom around the stage set of Batman Live!
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our Batmobile video report including interviews with Prof Murray.
The slick vehicle, made from a new type of carbon fibre, has virtual wheels.
Prof Murray said he could not reveal how much the Batmobile moves around the stage as the show has been kept a secret – even from him.
Batman Live, an all-action extravaganza in which the legendary superhero and his trusty sidekick Robin make their theatre debut next month, will feature daredevil stunts, flight, circus acrobatics and spectacular illusions.
Finishing touches are being carried out at a west London warehouse where rehearsals have been taking place ahead of the world premiere in Manchester and eight shows to follow at Sheffield Motorpoint Arena from August 10 to 14.
The production, co-directed by creative director Anthony Van Laast, who has worked on the likes of Mamma Mia! and Sister Act, is based on the story of orphan circus performer Dick Grayson – Robin – who, after losing his parents to organised crime, begins a quest for justice aided by his vigilante hero, Batman.
As the tale unfolds, the audience will be transported from the snowy peaks of the Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge to the dark depths of Arkham Asylum.
Some of the 43-strong cast, made up of actors and acrobats, could be seen rehearsing gravity-defying stunts in front of the stage’s 100ft bat-shaped backdrop, ahead of the Batmobile’s unveiling.
Prof Murray said he was influenced when designing the Batmobile by comic books he read as a child as well as by real racing cars, and had ‘let the fantasy loose’.
He was given free rein on design with only a little guidance from a production team.
Prof Murray explained flashing LED lights on the wheels give the Batmobile motion and a sense of life.
He said: “It has ground effect aerodynamics just like a Formula One car so it could suck itself down. If that was a real car on the road it could suck itself down to the road, or even suck itself to the ceiling if it was travelling at 100mph. From a materials point of view and an aerodynamic shape it’s pretty real, or could be real in, say, 20 years. So it’s based on reality.
“But a lot of the systems on the car – the virtual wheels, and the hydrogen fuel cell and stuff – is a little bit of fantasy.”
The Arena will be transformed into a mini Manhattan, complete with skyscrapers and looming apartment blocks – with space for Goth-am City seats, putting some fans right next to the action.
* Tickets for Sheffield are £20 to £45. Book online at www.motorpointarena.co.uk, buy in person, or call 0114 2565656.