Up close and personal as ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’ stomps into DowntownWritten by Lisa Renee Ward | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“When a T-rex gets in your face you can really feel and hear the sounds.” That one sentence from Raymond Carr, head voodoo puppeteer for “Walking With Dinosaurs,” gives you an idea of what you can expect when the live theatrical show opens May 7 at Huntington Center.
The idea was hatched in 1996 by Tim Haines, after the six half-hour “Walking With Dinosaurs” television programs that were first seen in October 1999 on BBC1. From there began the creative work to design the live theater version, which started touring in 2009.
Carr, a puppeteer of 15 years and creator of Ninja Puppet Productions, has been involved in about 400 performances of “Walking With Dinosaurs.” Carr, interviewed via phone from Knoxville, Tenn., said, “there are 23 semi trucks that travel and 65 people, quite an army of people, that put it all together and take it down.”
The term “voodoo puppeteer” comes from the name given to the special rigs designed to make 10 of the life-size dinosaurs come to life.
“It’s a lot of the same concepts with movie technology, but here you see the entire creature walking around by itself. In movies you’ll see the head or the tail of a monster developed for a particular shot, not the entire creature,” Carr said.
The largest dinosaur is the mother brachiosaurus, which is 36 feet tall and 52 feet in length — her size limits where the show can be performed. That is the dinosaur that Carr controls. Besides the nine dinosaurs controlled by voodoo rig, there is, Carr said, “a flying dinosaur; that one is a combination of the voodoo rig and automated wings with a projected background, there’s smoke and lightning and things of that nature.”
Five suit performers add to the dinosaurs on display. Carr said “The baby T-rex, the raptors, those are actually worn like suits, with harnesses around their waists and a rod that goes up into the head of the creature that operates all the sounds and the face movements of the creature. Those suits weigh between 80 to 90 pounds.”
With two puppet baby dinosaurs, a total of 17 of these life-sized creatures will be on display, with 15 walking around the arena area of Huntington Center. With music score, special effects and one human performer, “Huxley,” who plays a paleontologist, the audience is taken through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
Huntington Center performances start May 7 at 7 p.m. There are three performances scheduled on May 8 and two on May 9. Tickets range in price from $17.50 to $47.50. More information on the show can be found at the website dinosaurlive.com.