Yesterday was Frank's birthday, and what he wanted to do on his special day was go to see the Walking with Dinosaurs: The Live Experience stage show. Since you only turn 48 once, I decided to indulge him and go along. Alex, of course, was thrilled.
Alex and Frank are big fans of the Chased by Dinosaurs BBC series. If you're not familar with it, a guy named Nigel Marven takes a trip back in time to visit with dinosaurs. It's a very well done series, and the dinosaurs really come to life with a combination of CGI, puppetry, and animatronics. Nigel get into a few scrapes now and then, just to make it interesting. He's like the Steve Irwin of the Jurassic era.
They've taken this concept and turned it into a live-action stage show, with an "archaeologist" guide and some life-sized dinosaurs that move, make noises, and act a lot like what I imagine dinosaurs would be like. The host explains the different periods, from the Triassic to the Cretaceous, and the famous Jurassic in between. The big finale is the T-Rex, which stops and bellows at the audience.
The interesting thing about the show is the way the dinosaurs move. The small raptors are manned by a person and you can see their legs sticking out from the costumes, but its not at all like a big stuffed Barney. It's actually pretty convincing. The person inside is controlling a number of different features, from the tail to the head movements.
The big dinosaurs, like the impressive brachiosaurus, come out on a t-bar on the ground with a person inside a little capsule under the dinosaur who drives the whole thing. The legs move up and and down, and the head and tail are controlled as well. The big ones were pretty impressive, and not bad actors as well.
Most of the kids in the audience found it a bit too loud, especially when the T-Rex roared at the audience. Alex spent most of the second act with his fingers in his ears. Though there were quite a few really small kids in attendance, I didn't hear anyone crying. I wouldn't take a child (of any age) who is particularly noise-sensitive. It was a little scary, but no blood was shed, and no dinosaurs were harmed in the making of this stage production.
When we got to the arena, Alex said, "Isn't this where the Sharks play?" I told him that it was the same arena, and he said, "So the dinosaurs will be ice skating?" I'm sure if the producers had thought of that, they would have been.
I have to say, I thought this was one of the more asinine ideas for a stage show that I'd ever heard of, but then again, if Bob the Builder can have a show, why not the less cuddly ankylasaurus? Personally, I'm waiting for Journeyman: The Musical. Actually, I'd be happy if Journeyman just survives the entire TV season, since I'm one of about six people who watch that show. My love for Journeyman is an entire blog post in itself.
The show is on at HP Pavilion in San Jose through December 30, then moves on to Sacramento and Portland and other places around the country. Click here to order tickets.