A new high-tech stage show is attempting to portray in 95 minutes what it took evolution millions of years to accomplish. "Walking with Dinosaurs - The Live Experience" uses life-size models of Tyrannosaurus, Stegosaurus and 13 other extinct dinosaurs to realistically re-create an era when these giants roamed the Earth. As VOA's George Dwyer reports, the presentation combines the latest in Hollywood special effects with a powerful lesson in natural science.
This is how things might have looked like if you had wandered the Earth 65 million years ago, just as the age of the dinosaurs was coming to an end.
This semblance of that time, called "Walking with Dinosaurs - the Live Experience," is now appearing at sports arenas around the world. Fifteen life-sized 'virtual' dinosaurs dwarf human spectators as they rumble and roar in a multi-media extravaganza notable for its realism.
"These dinosaurs had to be able to be in 360 degrees look realistic and walk around on their own with sort of no strings attached," says Cameron Wenn, who is Director of "Walking with Dinosaurs - The Live Experience."
Wenn says it is essentially a puppet show - albeit on a monumental scale. "Nobody has ever done anything like this before and whilst it is educational it is still a live theatrical show so we have kind of come up with a hybrid term of 'edutainment' because it is a bit of both.
We start at the beginning and we take the key dinosaurs and the key points in their evolution and we explain the story that way. So that we sort of leapfrog through periods to get to the very end where they all died out."
Puppeteers control the huge beasts from backstage, sending directional instructions by remote control. Dramatic lighting, audio effects, and other theatrical production techniques have helped make the show a hit with both adults and children.
One spectator said, "I've got four boys, the older two (have) always loved dinosaurs and the little ones are just now getting into dinosaurs. So it was actually perfect timing."
Wenn agrees, the show is special. "It is amazing. You will see a a little three year old sitting next to its mom and go, 'Hey look Mommy, that is an ankylosaurus.' And you will see the mother go, 'How do you know that?" he says.
Wenn explains "Walking With Dinosaurs" cost $20 million to produce and employs the combined talents of some 150 artists and technicians. And it shows. When a stage production scores big on Broadway and is destined for an extended run, theater critics say it 'has legs.'
"Walking with Dinosaurs" has legs. Big legs.