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TO JANUARY 25

Hollywood keeps plundering old comic books for products “the whole family can enjoy.” The results are generally loud, smirky spectacles too violent for kids and too dumb for adults that lack the charm of their 10-cent originals. In SuperHero PowerTrip, choreographer Ajax Joe Drayton proves dance a much better medium than celluloid for comics’ battles between good and evil. Such cliches as streaming capes and scheming megalomaniacs take new flight onstage, and one is reminded why theaters call their work play. The story follows Charge, played by Drayton, as he regroups his superpowered compadres for a showdown with the evil Big Daddy (a very big Dan Awkward). Highlights include Charge unfreezing Undula the Water Girl (played by a stiff-then-sinuous Brooke Kidd) and spurned Super Nova (Denise Jakobsberg) balletically flinging herself in revenge at Charge. The athletic dancing incorporates elements of capoeira and other martial arts, and the electronic score by Wayson Jones and Chris Barbee is alternately spooky and military. Besides the eight principals, Drayton has cast the Youth Dance Ensemble, age 7 to 13, as the minions of Big Daddy and Hot Fang of the Underworld. Though adults, even those with low cuteness thresholds, can enjoy the show childlessly, SuperHero PowerTrip is an inspiring introduction to dance for kids, especially comic-book lovers. Performances are at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Publick Playhouse, 5445 Landover Rd., Cheverly. $8-15. (301) 277-1710. (Virginia Vitzthum)