By Nahima Kern
Walking with Dinosaurs the Arena Spectacular
Written by Warner Brown
Directed by Scott Faris
Brisbane Entertainment Centre
Season 1-5 April Bookings: brisent.com.au
IMAGINE…You find yourself looking out upon a desert wasteland with not a soul in sight. The vegetation is sparse and the hot sun beats down upon you like an omnipresent eye of molten ore. You hear a noise, a deep rumbling. A shadow falls. Fear sets in and you start to shake. You don’t want to turn around.
As you shift your eyes to look behind, you take in inch by inch a behemoth of a creature, towering above you at an unimaginable height. It moves towards you and…Well, that’s not really what happened. Still, it makes for a good opening – I hope. Now I’ll stop digressing and tell you what really went on. But first, what else can I say but, Dinosaurs.
That’s right. I went and saw Walking with Dinosaurs – The Arena Spectacular. When I was first approached to go and see the show I recognised the name, as it is a show that has been touring the world for some time but I didn’t know much about it. So I went along with no expectations as to what I was going to see.
As I walked up the steps of the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, I was met by dramatic music, composed by James Seymour Brett swelling out of the speakers and it made me feel like I was part of an epic. I should mention that the venue itself is rather easy to access for those who have not ventured out to Boondall before, even if the parking spaces can get rather cramped and chaotic (be warned). So I made my way in through a sea of children and parents, and even walked past a group of friends dressed in dinosaur onesies, into a spacious, well lit arena that was steadily filling up with quite a number of people.
As the stage was lit, the audience was met by a simple set, designed by Peter England – made up of a single structure, which turned out to be an artistic rendering of the continent Pangaea. Then a lone actor walked onto the stage. This was Huxley the Paleontologist, played by Lucas Worth.
As the show progressed and The Paleontologist took us through time, talking more and more about fascinating creatures, I was filled with wonder at the history that was being played out in front of my eyes. The general plot of the show, directed by Scott Faris, was simple; it took the audience on a journey from the Triassic period to the Cretaceous period. The dinosaurs the audience encountered were ones such as the Plateosaurus, Stegosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Torosaurus and of course, Tyrannosaurus Rex.
What has earned the show its fame is of course the stunning mix of man and machine in what is the most intricate mix of puppetry and animatronics. For that, we have to thank The Creature Technology Company, creators of dragons, from How to Train Your Dragon – The Arena Spectacular to King Kong for the eponymous stage show to mascots for the Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
Beginning in 2006 Melbourne, Australia became home to a plot, hatching – no pun intended – a plan to create a stage show based on the award winning BBC television series, Walking with Dinosaurs. The rest, as they say, is history. Gerry Ryan, chairman of Global Creatures – presenters of the arena spectacular – made a note in the program; since the show’s realisation, it has reputedly been performed to over “eight million people several times the world over, and continues to capture the hearts of audiences everywhere.”
Its little wonder the show has captivated so many people. What I, and I’m sure most people loved most about the show, was the stunning puppetry. Designed by Sonny Tilders the creatures were walked and even driven across the stage by people such as Lear McClellan, Steve Cooper, Alex Hale, Davide Leonard, Chad Miller, Peter Nielson and Zachary Svoboda.
Another aspect of the show that I liked, but found surprising was the fact that it was so short. With each act spanning around 40 minutes plus an interval, the total time of the performance was about one and a half hours. This seemed the perfect amount of time for the children in the audience as well.
So, to conclude, Walking with Dinosaurs – The Arena Spectacular was a fantastic show. Mixing puppetry and animatronics, it brought to life the history of the most awe-inspiring creatures. This is a show for children and adults alike, with there being something for everyone in this captivating spectacle. It’s definitely worth seeing, but remember that it’s a strictly limited season.