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Walking with Dinosaurs

Seven performances at Staples Center

Posted: September 3, 2010 6:00 a.m.
Updated: September 3, 2010 6:00 a.m.

“Walking with Dinosaurs — The Arena Spectacular” will end a three-year North American tour at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. The show will offer seven performances Sept. 9-12. Tickets are $39-$79.

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The end is near for the dinosaurs. You might have believed the dinosaurs became extinct millions of years ago, but anyone who has witnessed the remarkable show "Walking with Dinosaurs" knows better.

"Walking with Dinosaurs" will end its record-breaking three-year North America tour with seven performances at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Final performances will be held Sept. 9-12. The Honda Center in Anaheim is also hosting the show now through Sunday.

"Walking with Dinosaurs" was brought to life with life-sized dinosaurs. The $20 million spectacle requires 25 trucks to travel from town to town. The show features 17 roaring, snarling "live" dinosaurs that mesmerize the audience.

Linda Lavin, resident director of "Walking with Dinosaurs," said the show brings people as close as they are ever likely to get to a real dinosaur.

"I am totally amazed at how many people are fascinated with dinosaurs," she said. Lavin, who has worked as the show's resident director for the past year and a half, said children are especially fascinated with dinosaurs.

"It just amazes me at how much people, especially children, know about dinosaurs, too," she said. "I think people marvel at dinosaurs because they don't exist anymore, they are not something you can touch, or see or feel. Therein lies the fascination."

Lavin said the immense size of the dinosaur "cast" requires arena-size venues.

"They are so big they don't fit into a theater," she said. "That's why we try to play arenas."

Lavin said many people don't know what to expect from the show, then are "blown away" by the quality of it.

"We take people back in time," said Lavin. "We have a story-line and a script. We present life-size dinosaurs run by the most advanced technology, which allows them to move and sound real. They blink, the heads, the tails, it is so life-like."

The show includes 10 species of dinosaurs that represent the 200 million year reign of the dinosaurs. The show includes the Tyrannosaurus Rex, as well as the Plateosaurus and Liliensternus. Also on stage are the Stegosaurus and Allosaurus. Other familiar dinosaurs include the Torosaurus and Utahraptor.

The largest dinosaur is the Brachiosaurus, which is 36 feet tall and 56 feet long from nose to tail.

The Ornithocheirus has a wing span of 38 feet. The fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex is 23 feet tall and 42 feet long.
It took a team of 50 - including engineers, fabricators, skin makers, artists and painters and animatroinic experts, a year to build the original production.

Each large dinosaur weighs 1.6 tons, roughly the weight of the family car. It takes a team of three people to operate each dinosaur - one "driver" and two "puppeteers." One puppeteer operates the head and tail motions and the other is in charge of "minor movements" like eye blinks, roars and mouth movements.

The entire touring company includes 65 performers and operators.

Lavin said the production appeals to "kids from 3 to 93."

"It is a very family-friendly show," she said. "I would highly encourage people to come out and see this show. You'll never see anything like this again. It is state-of-the-art technology. When the lights go up and these creatures enter the arena floor you honestly are going to think you are seeing the real thing."

Lavin did advise parents to "know your child."

"The dinosaurs are big and it gets dark in the arena so if you have a timid child, they might be afraid," she said. "However, most children are mesmerized by the experience."

"Walking with Dinosaurs" explores the pre-history of the world, with the splitting of the continents, the transition of Earth from the arid desert of the Triassic period to the lush green prairies and forests of the later Jurassic period.

The show originated in Australia with the first performance in Sydney in January 2007. At the height of its popularity the demand for the show was so intense a second "company" of dinosaurs was constructed to tour Europe, Asia and other territories.

"Walking with Dinosaurs" has played to more than 6.5 million people and generated $300 million in overall ticket sales.
Lavin said the enormous popularity of the show is a testament to the craftsmanship of the creators.

"The way they move, the way they sound, the way they interact with each other and even with the audience, is spectacular," she said. "These dinosaurs are really life-size, I think that is what overwhelms people when they see them come out on stage for the first time."

Lavin said each dinosaur has its own personality.

"I like the Ankylosaurus, he's an herbivore, a vegetarian and the personality they have developed for him is just very likeable," she said.

Tickets to "Walking with Dinosaurs" at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles are $39-$79. Performances will be held 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9 and Friday, Sept. 10; 11 a.m. 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11; and 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12.

For tickets to Staples Center performances call (213) 480-3232 or online at www.ticketmaster.com. For information about "Walking with Dinosaurs" visit www.dinosaurlive.com.

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