By John Hummer
Exponent staff writer
Caitlyn Larsen is a 27-year-old young lady from Onsted, the daughter of Jeff and Marty Hubbard, and the granddaughter of Jackie Hubbard, whose family owns Hubbard’s Auto Center. However, Caitlyn has pursued a different way of life from the “normal” professional occupations, skilled trades, or business careers most people tend to gravitate toward. She is an actress and stuntwoman and, it seems, a successful one at that. Most recently she has been hired to perform as villainess “Nebula” in the Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes show. So, just what led her to this career choice?
Caitlyn is a 2008 graduate of Hillsdale Academy where her mother was a teacher and librarian. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in theater performance and economics in 2012 at Hillsdale College. She also graduated from Marine Corps Officer Candidate School. Following college, Caitlyn moved to Seattle to train and get her utility stunt certification with the United Stuntman’s Association from the International Stunt School. She was trained by Dave Boushey and Jeff McKracken, two of the big names in the industry. After stunt show stints in Chicago and China, Caitlyn moved to Atlanta to train with Jake Guinn, a top martial artist and stuntman. She auditioned for the Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes show with Guinn.
“We both got into the show,” she said proudly. “He plays the Green Goblin and I now play Nebula.”
Caitlyn started with Marvel in April this year and spent two intensive months building the show in Bradenton, Fla. The company premiered the show in New Orleans in June. Following that was a world premiere in Los Angeles and then shows in San Diego and San Jose, Calif., Denver, Las Vegas, and Portland, Ore. This week Caitlyn is in Salt Lake City. The Age of Heroes cast will perform at 36 major U.S. cities through June of 2018. They do between eight and 12 two-hour shows per city.
“We’re in a city for about one week at a time,” she said.
She must stay in tip-top physical condition to have the stamina to perform so many shows. “The whole cast is very athletic,” she says. “We’re full of gymnasts, trickers, marshal artists and weapons artists. We’ve all got a solid cardio and strength base, for sure. It’s pretty easy to train constantly and be physically prepared to do what I need to do.” In addition to having to do various combatant stunts, Caitlyn must paint her face for her Nebula character every day. “It burns,” she says. “Painting my face is totally the worst part of the gig. But at the end of the day I’m representing a character that millions of children recognize and I have a place in their lives every Saturday morning on a weekly basis. The face, the prosthetic, and the costume really pull that together. It’s totally worth it.” It takes Caitlyn 40 minutes to get ready for a show and up to 30 minutes getting everything off.
Caitlyn says that both boys and girls at an average age of eight is the show’s target audience. “But like any Disney or Pixar movie, there’s something there for everybody,” she adds. “There will be parents and grandparents that will pick up on jokes and puns that kids are not going to pick up on. It’s pretty fun for the whole family.”
Following her U.S. tour, Caitlyn and cast will do a quick tour in Canada and then go on a six-month European tour through March of 2019. For those in The Exponent readership area that would like to see Caitlyn perform, the show will be coming to Toledo the weekend of Oct. 7-8 and will be in Grand Rapids Nov. 17-19. “It’s been amazing,” Caitlyn said of her travels. “It’s been an incredible opportunity. It’s also given me the advantage of looking at what comes after this – what comes next for me. I get to have every city juxtaposed to one another back-to-back so I can really tell the cities’ cultures apart and find out where I want to be.” Through all her travels, Caitlyn has become accustomed to life on the road. “Luckily, my experience traveling abroad made the whole packing thing really easy,” she says. She carries all her belongings in one suitcase. “I got traveling light down-pat. I’ve adapted pretty well in that way.”
There are 150 people in the Age of Heroes cast and crew that travel together. “We have some really good chemistry and everyone gets along pretty well,” Caitlyn said. The most challenging part about life on the road for Caitlyn is eating right. “It’s really hard to have the nutrition you need at your fingertips,” she says. “That’s literally the most difficult thing about this.” And as far as Caitlyn’s future, the sky is the limit. “I definitely try to keep an open mind and look for opportunities,” she said. “I’m really concerned with fostering a community of artists and people that want to impact the world in a positive manner. Right now, I’m really focusing on who I want to be around and the projects that come from that pursuit. I will probably continue to be involved in the arts and will be looking at something like film or television in the future.”
For more information about Caitlyn’s show, schedule and tickets, visit www.marveluniverselive.com.