Maybe I’m late to the party, but recently, Atomic City Comics has been sponsoring some really awesome geek life type affairs. From screenings at the shop, themed burlesque shows, and drink and draw events at Tattooed Mom’s, they are doing a helluva job providing the geek community with spectacular social events. On August 29th they teamed up with Touch Me Philly Productions and knocked it out of the park with a live reading of silver age Batman comics. Originally conceived by Daniel Student, Super Heroes That Are Super! proved to be even funnier and more entertaining than I could have hoped for!
First up on the bill was The Riddle-less Robberies of The Riddler, directed by cohost, Shoshanna Green. Taken straight from the pages of Batman #179, the dialogue was so cheeky and campy, that after many laughs the audience was reminded that not a word was changed! Batman and Robin, played by Jeff Orens and Mike O’Donnell, nailed the essence of those characters so well that it was like being transported back to the 60’s. Both of these guys would have made Adam West and Burt Ward proud! Truly a dynamic duo, you really could not have asked for a better pair. However, the true stand out in this first story was The Riddler himself, played by Quinton Alexander. I am not exaggerating when I say his evil villain laugh was up there with Mark Hamill’s iconic Joker cackle. It made me giggle so hard that I had to cover my mouth and even then the rest of the room heard me. The story itself provided plenty of laughs as we see The Riddler come to the realization that his compulsion for leaving clues is putting a damper on his criminal life and that if he cannot cure himself of this compulsion, he may have to reconsider his status as a criminal mastermind. Alas, after his latest caper, our caped crusaders can’t help but pick a trail of cleverly hidden clues and The Riddler finds that his subconscious just will not let his old habit go.
During intermission, Alyson Rodriguez Orenstein, co-owner of Touch Me Philly Productions treated us to a Joss Whedon themed parody of Billy Joel’s 1989 hit, “We Didn’t Start The Fire.” Highlighting the immense amount of popular characters that we’ve seen killed off in the Whedon universe; Alyson stole the heart of all Buffy fans in attendance that night. Just a little over mid-way through the show and my cheeks were hurting from laughter. L’etage proved to be the perfect intimate venue as you could tell that not only was the audience feeling what the cast was putting down, but the cast was feeding of the good vibes they were creating as well!
Our second story featured the same great duo as Batman and Robin only this time they faced their most roly-poly of opponents, The Penguin! In Batman #169, Penguin’s Partners in Plunder, our Dark Knight and his loyal Boy Wonder are duped into conceiving The Penguin’s next big heist. Played by Barton Meeks, who also lent his talent to some oddball characters in the first story, he took me back to my childhood and it felt like The Penguin from the 1960s TV show had just been transported to a little club in Philly. His accent was perfect and along with every other performer there that night, he delivered a stellar performance. They were joined on stage by Orenstein and Alexander playing various roles, Orenstein knocking out several different and unique female characters and even Commissioner Gordon. Showing how versatile she could be, she also provided the narration for The Riddler story as well. Narrating The Penguins tale as well as playing the police chief and other various characters in the first story, Dave Ferrier, Fright Factory alum, was just another member of an amazing cast of characters. Not to be outdone, co-owner of Touch Me Philly Productions, Amanda Sylvester Altieri, was not only our cohost for this night full of laughter; she also directed the second show based on the pages of Batman #169.
Clearly, Altieri and Orenstein are one hell of a dynamic duo themselves, bringing copious amounts of fun and entertaining theater to the Philadelphia area. Not only am I anxiously awaiting another live reading of more old school comic wonderfulness, I will definitely be keeping my eye out for any project this pair touches. This show was a fundraiser for an upcoming production of Evil Dead: The Musical set to hit a local stage in Philly by fall of next year. Considering how well they execute the campiness of Silver Age comics, I have no doubt that they will literally swallow your soul with their rendition of one of the messiest musicals ever to come from a cult movie classic!