‘Walking With Dinosaurs’ a Dino-lover must-see

One terrifying T-rex puppet. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Just how does one choreography for puppets that are as tall as 36  feet and long as 56 feet? How does one inspire awe and educate at the same time? How does one give a sense of history that covers a time before man? Director Scott Faris has a lot of help–teams of designers working with animatronic puppetry–and a cast of human puppeteers along with the guidance Tim Haines, the creator and producer of the BBC series as the consultant. The result, “Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular” is an awe-inspiring family theater event that should not be missed.

Currently playing at the Honda Center, a place where normally humans are sliding on ice and bashing each other with hockey sticks, the show opened last night, and remains at the Honda Center until 5 September and then the 25 trucks move the show over to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles where the show plays 9-12 September 2010.

Didn’t you love dinosaurs as a kid? Look for the kid in you and be filled with wonder. Love gadgets? Love costuming? Are you a total science geek? This theatrical production combines lighting, scenery, puppetry and acting with science, engineer and technology. What’s not to love?

Scale is represented by our intrepid paleontologist, Huxley, who explains to us what the original BBC series took six episodes to do. The dinosaurs don’t ignore him and they don’t ignore each other. Considering that the large dinosaurs weighs as much as a standard family car (1.6 tons) and requires a driver and two voodoo puppeteers–one for the head and tails gross motion and one for the minor movements (blinking of eyes, mouth movement and vocalizations)–that’s a lot of choreography.

The smaller dinosaurs are “suit” dinosaurs, operated by one person. The smallest one is seven feet tall and 16 feet long. The largest (3 Utahraptors) is 8 feet tall and 14 feet long.

In all 10 separate species are represented:

  • Allosaurus – 14.5 ft tall x 43 ft long
  • Ankylosaurus – 12 ft tall x 34 ft long
  • Brachiosaurus – adult 36 ft tall x 56 ft long and young 29.5 ft tall x 48 ft long
  • Liliensternus – 7.5 ft tall x 16 ft long (suit)
  • Ornithocheirus – Wing Span 38 ft
  • Plateosaurus – 10 ft tall x 31 ft long
  • Stegosaurus – 18.5 ft tall x 36 ft long
  • Torosaurus (2) – 13 ft tall x 30 ft long
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex – 23 feet tall x 42 feet long
  • Baby T-Rex – 7 ft tall x 14 long (suit)
  • Utahraptors – 8 ft tall x 14 ft long (suit)

The puppetry is so convincing that now in my mind, I know how the dinosaurs moved and looked and just how massive they were compared to humans. These puppets are the beasts that will fill my imagination.  The attention to detail in appearance and movement is amazing.  You’ll want a Utahraptor costume for Halloween or your next dinosaur outing. (Sorry not available in the gift shop).

“Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular” shows that puppets have evolved even if today the dinosaurs themselves remain only as fossils and fuel. If you ever loved dinosaurs, this is a must-see show.

“Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular” continues at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Thursday-Friday (2-3 September), 7 p.m.; Saturday (4 September), 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday (5 September) 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the Honda Center Box Office or Ticketmaster (Ticketmaster.com)

At the Staples Center, Thursday (9 September) 7 p.m.; Friday (10 September) 7 p.m.; Saturday (11 September) 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday (12 September), 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the Staples Center Box Office or Ticketmaster (Ticketmaster.com)

For more information about “Walking With Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular” go to their Website.

For more information about the BBC series, visit the BBC website.

For information about shoes for dinosaur-lovers, see my review of Dinosoles.

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About Jana J. Monji

I've written for the Rafu Shimpo, LA Weekly, LA Times, Examiner.com and, more recently, the Pasadena Weekly and RogerEbert.com. I formerly worked for a dot-com more interested in yodeling than its customers.

Posted on September 2, 2010, in Special Events and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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