Spider-Man has something he’d like to say: “Thanks, Mom.”
Moe Alafrangy — the 25-year-old who plays the comic book character in the “Marvel Universe Live!” tour — at first wasn’t happy when his mother dragged him to taekwondo classes starting when he was 9. “I didn’t see the point of it,” Alafrangy says.
But then he progressed to advanced levels, and discovered martial arts “tricking,” which focuses on flips, kicks and jumps.
“I didn’t know what I was preparing for,” says Alafrangy, who eventually became a fourth-degree black belt. He just liked that this kind of stuff made him feel
like a superhero.
Now he’s actually donning a skintight suit as part of the live-action Marvel show, which swings by Verizon Center and the Patriot Center this month. These two stops are especially thrilling for Alafrangy, who grew up in Falls Church and graduated from Annandale High School.
Alafrangy had been planning to attend George Mason University when he landed a gig with a live production of “How to Train Your Dragon.” He ended up moving to L.A. instead.
The role of Spider-Man has demanded a different kind of education. Alafrangy has learned to swing from webs and “fly” over the audience. (“Kids always freak out” at that moment, he says.) The scariest bit for him? Falling from a 26-foot platform.
“You have to be focused to land on the airbag,” says Alafrangy, who started with a 16-foot drop and gradually increased the height as he got more comfortable with the stunt. “And it’s like jumping into water, so if you hit it the wrong way, it’ll hurt.”
To all the aspiring superheroes out there, Alafrangy wants to point out that his martial arts background gave him a leg up with the choreography.
“I can throw punches and kicks properly, and I instinctively know how to dodge,” he says. And, serendipitously, one of his favorite tricks was already a Spider-Man move: the Webster, a kind of standing front flip.
But Peter Parker probably never prepped to fight villains the way Alafrangy does. He warms up by putting on some music and dancing. To prevent injury, Alafrangy says, it’s critical to step on stage already breaking a sweat.
Mom should be so proud.
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