“Open the door, get on the floor, everybody walk the dinosaur!” Ever since the globally-acclaimed show, Walking with Dinosaurs, arrived on our sunny shores weeks ago, the catchy refrain from the 1988 Was (Not Was) hit, “Walk The Dinosaur”, kept playing in my head. When opening night for the live arena spectacular came last Thursday at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, I still didn’t get a chance to walk with a dinosaur, but I sure saw a good lot of them doing, well, a whole lot of things!
Based on the 1999 award-winning BBC docu-series of the same name, Walking with Dinosaurs – The Live Experience is a US$20 million (S$27.7m) production that features 18 life-sized dinosaurs—the tallest of which is almost three-stories high!—comprising nine different species and operated by skilled performers who bring them to life.
Through the show’s paleontologist Huxley, the audience is given a 200-million-year paleontology lesson deftly compressed into a 100-minute show (with a 20-min interval) filled with special lighting and projection effects, and not forgetting, some amazingly realistic-looking dinosaurs!
Musings on the M49 was delighted to be invited to the Walking with Dinosaurs‘ opening night rehearsal (partial) and performance. A unique educational yet fun show for both young and old—and a real treat especially if you are a big dinosaur fan—here are the top 5 highlights of Walking with Dinosaurs – The Live Experience.
Walking with Dinosaurs – The Live Experience: Top 5 Highlights
5. Battle of the Torosauruses
A herbivorous dinosaur, the Torosaurus immediately catches your eye thanks to its hardy elongated frill and two long sharp horns atop its bulky head and build. And when two of them are strolling around and grunting at each other, you know they are going to lock horns when they come head to head. For every big dinosaur, a team of three people is required to operate it – two puppeteers called Voodoos (who handle various movements) and one driver who makes it walk on steerable polyurethane wheels (the thick plank-like structure seen between the dino’s legs pictured above).
4. Carnivore & Herbivore Fight
Let’s face it, even among us humans, meat eaters and vegetarians seldom see eye to eye (thankfully, just a small faction). But in prehistoric times, the herbivore IS unfortunately meat for its carnivore counterpart, represented here by the Stegosaurus and Allosaurus respectively. The Stegosaurus, highly recognizable by its broad, upright plates, has a spiky tail which it uses primarily for defence and which, as you can see in the video above, it is furiously swinging for dear life as it tries to avoid being dinner for the rampaging Allosaurus.
3. Snappy Utahraptors Eating Their Prey
At just 2.5m tall, Utahraptors may look scrawny compared to their massive counterparts, but they are fascinating to watch as they move and run very fast because of their size. And also being meat eaters, they have no qualms of eating one of their own, or hunting down large herbivores in packs of two or three. Brrr!
Performance-wise, it is also very intriguing as these critters are small enough to be operated physically by one puppeteer in a costume suit (which alone could weigh about 35-40kg), simulating not only limb movements but everything from the eyes to the tail to even the sounds the creature makes.
2. Mama T-Rex Rescuing Baby T-Rex
Hell hath no fury like a Mama T-Rex’s wrath. When a tiny scruffy Tyrannosaurus Rex came galloping out, everyone thought it was oh-so-cute until it was caught between a rock and a hard place – or, more specifically, the armored porcupine-like Ankylosaurus and the winning Torosaurus from an earlier scene. Just when we thought Baby T-Rex is going to end up as dino snack, out came ferocious Mama T-Rex, in all her 7m x 13m glory, showing the two predators exactly who’s boss.
It’s no wonder that WWD touring director Ian Waller calls the T-Rex the “star of the show”. The moment the towering adult T-Rex steps into the arena, first as a silhouette, then under the spotlight, its imposing build is not only instantly recognizable but also extremely intimidating. Yet the creature also shows an inquisitive nature (as it looks over the audience, see top main picture), plus a tender side when consoling its precious baby.
1.The Brachiosaurus Ballet
The T-Rex may be the superstar but if truth be told, the graceful long-necked Brachiosaurus is the one that took my breath away. Measuring 11m tall and 17m from head to tail, it is also the biggest dinosaur on the show. And Baby Brachiosaurus ain’t exactly tiny either (unlike baby T-Rex) – it is just a tad smaller at 9m tall and 15m long. And it also needs its mama to rescue it from bullies and/or predators. There is a moment in the show where the pair just glides around, occasionally munching on greens, as if waltzing to a ballet. Simply lovely. And even though you know it is not real, you just can’t not wave to Mama Brachiosaurus when she is looking directly at you during the show!
WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: BEHIND THE SCENES
At the Walking with Dinosaurs rehearsal, besides the rare opportunity of seeing and filming selected scenes of the show itself, Musings on the M49 also had the chance to hear Lead Voodoo Puppeteer, Amanda Maddock (above left), showing us various equipment used by Voodoo puppeteers and drivers to operate the large dinosaurs.
One Voodoo will operate head and tail gross motion, while the other is in charge of minor movements such as jaw, blinking and sounds. As you can see on the keyboard machine (above right), the sounds that can be made include snorts, roars and even farts! Yes, modern-day puppetry has come a long way since the days of using just fingers and strings!
Walking With Dinosaurs – The Live Experience runs until Sept 8, 2019 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Performances : Tue-Fri 7pm; Sat-Sun: 10.30am, 2:30pm and 6:30pm. Tickets: $78-$148 from www.sportshubtix.sg/WWD2019
All photos by Marguerita Tan. No text or images from this post are to be used without the blog author’s permission.