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Dancer kicks it up as Agent Hill in Marvel Live!

By Ron Wolfe

This article was published January 8, 2015 at 1:57 a.m.


Actress Madison Embrey’s comic-book character, Maria Hill (left), plots with Marvel Comics hero Nick Fury (Romeo Brown) in Marvel Universe Live! The show opens a three-day run Friday at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock.

Marvel Universe Live!

7 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, Verizon Arena, North Little Rock

Tickets: $21-$51

(501) 975-9000

Iron Man, Spider Man, The Mighty Thor and the Incredible Hulk are just the guys to save the world Friday through Sunday at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock. But the boys can't do it all.

Actress and dancer Madison Embrey joins the fray as Maria Hill, agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., in the arena show, Marvel Universe Live!

"I love playing her," the 22-year-old Michigan native says of the black-sheathed beauty. "She doesn't have superpowers, but she's a super presence."

Hill's place in the Marvel universe is a 10-year tale of comic-book entanglements. But to sum up in two punches: (1) She is on Nick Fury's team of earth champions, and (2) She kicks bad guys in the head.

"It's a hook kick," Embrey says. The martial arts move tests the agility she learned in dance class.

The nearly two-hour show is like "basically, a Marvel movie," only performed live, she says. Things are plain as good vs. evil, or complicated as only a Marvel story can be.

Marvel Comics true believers know that nothing is so powerful as the "Cosmic Cube." In the words of Marvel's Stan Lee: "'Nuff said." But not quite. Hammer-wielding Thor has bashed the thing to bits. The thunder god's evil brother Loki means to recover it. About 25 heroes and evildoers take sides in the titanic throw-down.

"We flip a car," Embrey says. "We have pyrotechnics" and "a lot of motorcycles." Among her favorite scenes to watch, Captain America and his nemesis, the Red Skull, sort out their differences on motorcycles.

"Some of the stunts are incredible," Embrey promises.

Nobody sings. No mice go skating. No princess longs for magic. It's clobberin' time. And like Wolverine's talons, snikt! go the claws of at least one critic.

Country singer John Rich (Son of a Preacher Man) attacked the show in December. The noise made his 3- and 4-year-old boys cry, he said, as quoted on the celebrity news site

Entertainment Weekly magazine reviewed Marvel Universe Live! as an "all-out assault" but "undeniably nerdy fun."

Embrey says the show is loud, all right, but what else would people expect from saving the universe?


For the actress, "it's been incredible." On the road since July, she has taken up a trouper's life. "Superheroes travel by bus and plane," she says. They "wake up in the morning to a new city."

Her first visit to Little Rock likely will find her viewing the Clinton Presidential Center, as well as the priority of any stop -- a gym. She has been dancing since childhood, and cites running, boxing, Pilates and yoga as other favorite ways of keeping fit.

The show demands stamina. Saturday's schedule calls for the defenders of planetary peace to save the universe not just once, but three times (three performances).

Chances are, they will sock it home. Embrey's character already has booted evil off the stage 160 times in the first year of the show's two-year, 85-city tour.

Embrey's goal is Broadway, or maybe a high-kicking place in the Radio City Rockettes chorus line, or movie stunt work.

Comic-book character Hill's goal is ever more ambitious, higher than the top ranks of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury keeps a wary eye on her, and maybe so should Hillary Clinton. But here's this Cosmic Cube in the way -- again.

Even high-powered heroines have their down times, Embrey says. "But when you get on stage, and you hear those people cheering, it doesn't matter how tired you are. You are totally into the show."

Weekend on 01/08/2015

Print Headline: Dancer kicks it up as Agent Hill in Marvel Live!


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