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Dinosaurs to storm the Q Arena in 'Walking with Dinosaurs The Arena Spectacular'

Published: July 6, 2014 12:00 AM
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Dinosaurs once again roam the earth when the spectacular production, "Walking With Dinosaurs The Arena Spectacular," based on the award-winning BBC Television Series, will make a stop at the Quicken Loans Arena July 9 through 13.

This updated production will showcase changes to the dinosaurs based on the latest scientific research including the likely feathering of some species. "Walking With Dinosaurs The Arena Spectacular" is produced by Global Creatures headed by CEO Carmen Pavlovic.

The show depicts the dinosaurs' evolution with almost cinematic realism. "Walking With Dinosaurs The Arena Spectacular" has scenes of the interactions between dinosaurs, how carnivorous dinosaurs evolved to walk on two legs, and how the herbivores fended off their more agile predators.

Ten species are represented from the entire 200 million year reign of the dinosaurs. The show includes the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the terror of the ancient terrain, as well as the Plateosaurus and Liliensternus from the Triassic period, the Stegosaurus and Allosaurus from the Jurassic period and Torosaurus and Utahraptor from the awesome Cretaceous period. The largest of them, the Brachiosaurus, is 36 feet tall and 56 feet from nose to tail. It took a team of 50 - including engineers, fabricators, skin makers, artists and painters, and animatronic experts - a year to build the production.

The history of the world is played out with the splitting of the earth's continents, and the transition from the arid desert of the Triassic period is given over to the lush green prairies and forces of the later Jurassic. Oceans form, volcanoes erupt, a forest catches fire -- all leading to the impact of the massive comet, which struck the earth, and forced the extinction of the dinosaurs.

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Artistic Director William May developed the creative vision of the show based on an original idea by entrepreneur Bruce Mactaggart to create an arena version of the Walking With Dinosaurs television series.

Sonny Tilders, who designed and built the creatures has been, for the past decade, one of the major creative forces of the high-tech world of animatronic puppetry for film and television. He designed the Global Creatures/Dreamworks production How To Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular, and created the lead character in the Australian stage production of King Kong, which had its world premiere season in Melbourne, Australia in 2013. He was one of the lead animatronic engineers for Jim Henson's Creature workshop on the Farscape series, followed by work on Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, Peter Pan, Ghost Rider and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Tilders said, "Many of the technologies we are using on 'Walking With Dinosaurs The Arena Spectacular' are borrowed from film. The computer software and hardware we have developed is based on the systems used to control animatronic creatures in feature films."

"To make it appear that these creatures are flesh and blood weighing six, eight or even 20 tons, we use a system called 'muscle bags,' made from stretch mesh fabric and filled with polystyrene balls, stretched across moving points on the body. These contract and stretch in the same manner that muscle, fat, and skin does on real creatures.

"The puppeteers use 'voodoo rigs' to make many of the dinosaurs move. They are miniature versions of the dinosaurs with the same joints and range of movement as their life-sized counterparts. The puppeteer manipulates the voodoo rig and these actions are interpreted by computer and transmitted by radio waves to make the hydraulic cylinders in the actual dinosaur replicate the action, with a driver hidden below the animal, helping to maneuver it around the arena."

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Suited puppeteer specialists, who are inside the creatures, operate five of the smaller dinosaurs.

The sets and projections are by the multi-award winning designer Peter England whose work has toured the world extensively. A frequent collaborator at Opera Australia, the Australian Ballet and Bangarra Dance Theatre,he also designed sections of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies, three City of Sydney New Year's Eve Celebrations and in 2002 was a finalist in the international design competition for the Pentagon Memorial in Washington DC. His latest award-winning work was on the production design for King Kong which had a hugely successful 8 month run in Melbourne in 2013/2014.

Performance information

Performances are at 7 p.m. July 9, 10 and 11; at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. July 12; and at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. July 13.

Opening night ticket prices range from $25 to $90. Other shows range from $35 to $90.

Quickens Loans Arena is at 1 Center Court in Cleveland. For details or tickets, call 888-894-9424 or visit www.theQArena.com.

For more information on the show, visit www.dinosaurlive.com.

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