Children & Vikings & Dragons, Oh My!

Kids and animatronics go together like dragons and Vikings. They’ve come a long way since I was a wee one fascinated by the Country Bear Jamboree at King’s Island and Abraham Lincoln at Disney World. Those characters were stiff and their movements were definitely not life-like, but they moved, and that, to my child-like eyes, was pretty incredible. Despite the technological limitations there was still that suspension of disbelief and I and every other kid who saw them were filled with a sense of wonder.

Now I’m all grown up and so is that technology. This is nowhere more evident than at Dreamwork’s “How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular“. When I received the invitation I wondered how they would translate the 2D animated movie to a live event at the United Center. The story centers around a young Viking named Hiccup and his friendship with one of the rarest and most dangerous dragons. It has the typical characters: the disappointed yet loving father; the other kids who bully and tease him because he’s not like them; and the pretty girl who’s one of the boys.

Astrid (Sarah McCreanor) flying

It also has dragons. Each one is imbued with its own personality, which seems like it would be fairly impossible without the use of CGI and yet they manage to pull it off.  They’re all multi-colored and multi-textured and their movements are so life-like you can almost imagine them climbing out of the arena and causing traffic jams on Madison Ave. This was definitely not Showbiz Pizza.

While the animatronics were thrilling, they were matched by the coordinated lighting and the back wall, which filled the space of nine movie screens. We went from day to night, inside to outside, and in the air to underwater. The most impressive part of that aspect of the production was when Rarmian Newton, who played Hiccup, was racing along a “path” projected onto the back wall. The path zigged and zagged as Newton followed its course while hanging suspended from the ceiling! 

The show is only in town this weekend but they’ve got six shows through Sunday. Tickets start at $29.50 and they’ve got several VIP options, including a chance to meet the dragons.

You don’t need to be a kid to enjoy this show, but you will end up feeling like one.

Featured Photo credit Jeff Busby
Astrid Photo credit Lisa Tomasetti







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