The thing to remember about How to Train Your Dragon: Arena Spectacular is that it’s made for kids. Sure, the set, lighting, acrobatics and dragons will be enough to maintain the interest of the older crowd, but all in all this is a production aimed at entertaining 6 to 12-year-olds.
With that in mind, it’s interesting to note that the first half of the show goes for 80 seat-squirming minutes, testing even the most well-mannered of children. During this time, we follow Viking teen Hiccup though exactly the same storyline as the film, but with less witty dialogue. For this reason, we suggest not watching the movie before you go.
While the dragons themselves are impressive, the genius of the set design steals the show for us. One wall is used as a huge screen, upon which the majority of the set is projected. During the show, firemen’s poles, ropes, doors and balconies are used to transform the wall in more ways than you would think possible. Special mention must be made of a particularly impressive acrobatic feat skilfully executed when an aerial view is projected on to the wall.
How to Train Your Dragon: Arena Spectacular is a great foray into a new facet of the film industry, and a bold move by DreamWorks. As a performance it misses the mark in a few key areas, namely dialogue, diversion from the film and a painfully long first act, but you (and your children) may not even notice that thanks to the beautiful set design and giant dragons wandering around the place.
Don't see this show for the performance itself, but for a taste of things to come in the film industry. We see productions like this one being used to tell side stories like Wicked did for The Wizard of Oz, or to add depth to a franchise like the Matrix animations and comic books. It's all part of your multi-faceted experience.
How to Train Tour Your Dragon: Arena Spectacular is touring for five years globally, starting right here in Australia, we recommend you see it and make up your own mind before the Americans try and make it up for you. Our own readers' comments have ranged, passionately, from one end of the spectrum to the other.