Time Out Melbourne

The animated hit gets the arena treatment

Melburnians beware! In 2011 terrible lizards emerged from the bowels of the Hisense Arena, thrilling audiences with sights unseen for sixty-five million years. In March 2012, terrible lizards will return to the Arena, but they'll be a different breed—even bigger, fiercer and more spectacular than their forebears.

And these ones can fly.

Over six million people worldwide have seen Global Creatures' Walking With Dinosaurs – The Arena Spectacular, but Creature Designer Sonny Tilders believes their new show, inspired by Dreamworks Animation's hit film How To Train Your Dragon, will take the company to another level. "The theatrical requirements of Walking with Dinosaurs - The Arena Spectacular challenged us in ways that film and television animatronics has ceased to do," says Tilders. "The Dragon project requires us to extend our experience in new and exciting ways in order to realise the beautiful designs and dynamic animation of a DreamWorks fantasy world in a live context."

Based on the children's book by Cressida Cowell, How To Train Your Dragon is an adventure-comedy about what it's like to be different. Set in the ancient land of the Vikings, it's the story of Hiccup, a teenager perennially out of step with the macho dragon-slaying traditions of his tribe. Brainy rather than brawny, Hiccup is determined to become a warrior in his own way, but his life changes forever when he discovers a wounded dragon trapped in the nearby forest. As he slowly nurses it back to health, Hiccup begins to question his tribe's entire way of life. As his bond with the creature grows, it soon becomes clear that for both boy and dragon nothing will ever be the same again.

Boasting twenty-four different dragons of all shapes and sizes, this is a show that promises to break every rule of traditional arena entertainment. “The innovative team at Global Creatures and the creative storytellers at DreamWorks have done an inspired job,” says Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation. “[This] will take audiences to unforgettable new heights.” As well as interacting with their earthbound co-stars, the dragons will also take to the air, breathing fire as they fly above the audience. The largest weigh just over one-and-a-half tons—about the same weight as a standard family car—and inside each of their bodies are one hundred and thirty-two metres of hydraulic hose, seven kilowatts of power from sixteen truck batteries and one kilometre of cabling. “How To Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular will incorporate everything we learned from Walking with Dinosaurs whilst taking the technology to a brand new level,” says Sonny Tilders. “Using state of the art computer software we are able to make these creatures perform in ways that we previously thought unimaginable.”

As in the film, the human characters will be just as important as the creatures. Supporting the dragons will be Viking warriors, circus and acrobatic performers, and the show will feature projections, flying, stunts, fire and pyrotechnics. “We are excited to expand the boundaries of public expectation by creating a show that combines dynamic creatures, world class performers and incredible staging to not only thrill and intrigue, but to engage audiences on an emotional level as well,” concludes Carmen Pavlovic, CEO of Global Creatures. “We believe we have created a new genre in entertainment and hope to bring ground breaking productions to arenas for years to come.”

Rarmian Newton and Sarah McCreanor on How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular

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Updated on 27 Sep 2013.

By Dave Hoskin   |  

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