Life-size — and some less-than-scale — dinosaurs trot around MSG, terrifying onlookers, but not worrying the actor-narrator, "Huxley," a paleontologist character who shares information about his castmates and their world in the 90-minute show, based on the BBC TV series. James Roberts and Jonathan Bliss alternate in the role of safari-suited Huxley.
Walking With Dinosaurs is brought to North America by The Creature Production Company, headed by CEO Carmen Pavlovic, who said in production notes, "The BBC Series was a brilliant blend of special effects, escapism, excitement and information. Our show has that — and it's live. In this show, 15 roaring, snarling 'live' dinosaurs mesmerize the audience — and are as awe-inspiring as when they first walked on earth."
Pavlovic continued, "This is a show that could only fit in arenas, as the creatures are so absolutely immense in size. Audiences seated in the lower seats are all but overwhelmed by the dinosaurs, while those seated in higher seats can view the entire spectacle and panorama of the production. It is the closest you'll ever get to experiencing what it was like when they walked and ruled the earth."
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.
The show is directed by Scott Faris, a Broadway veteran who has worked side by side with Harold Prince, Trevor Nunn, Michael Blakemore, Gene Saks, John Caird, Tommy Tune and Jerry Zaks. Faris directed the London production of Chicago, as well as productions of Les Miserables, City of Angels, Cats, Grease and the 2007 national tour of Sweet Charity starring Molly Ringwald. The dinosaurs move with the help of computers, hydraulics and (in the smaller creatures) puppeteers who are inside the suits. The computer software and hardware is based on the systems used to control animatronic creatures in feature films.
The creatures are designed and built by Sonny Tilders; the set and projected image design are by Peter England; the show's lighting is by John Rayment, the score was composed by James Brett; and Warner Brown wrote the script.
Walking With Dinosaurs is on a two-year tour of North America. A dozen performances play Madison Square Garden. The production has won the 2007 THEA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Touring Event. The THEAs recognize excellence in the creation of compelling educational, historical, and entertainment projects.
Over 1,000,000 Americans have already seen the production since it opened in July 2007. The show originated in Australia where it played several sold-out months.
The show has sold out performances and broken records in arenas all over the America, generating more than $50 million in ticket sales to date.
For tickets, call (212) 307-4111, or visit www.thegarden.com. Madison Square Garden is at 34th Street and Eighth Avenue.
For more information, please visit www.dinosaurlive.com. Video of the show is available on the site under "The Dinosaurs" tab in the middle of the front page.
For dino fans: "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.
"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 original production.
"The show depicts the dinosaurs' evolution, complete with the climatic and tectonic changes that took place, which led to the demise of many species. With almost cinematic realism, Walking With Dinosaurs has scenes of the interactions between dinosaurs, and the audience sees how carnivorous dinosaurs evolved to walk on two legs, and how the herbivores fended off their more agile predators.
"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."