Fire in the Sky
Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular begins its North American Tour in Wilkes-Barre
When it comes to mythical creatures, tell the unicorns, gargoyles and krakens to stay at home; the dragons are coming to town. Audiences will have several opportunities to see massive animatronic fire breathing dragons fill the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza when Dreamworks’ How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular kicks off its North American Tour with a one-week engagement in Wilkes-Barre on June 27.
The show was created by DreamWorks Animation, producers of the Academy Award nominated film, How to Train Your Dragon, and Global Creatures, the masterminds behind Walking with Dinosaurs, the number one grossing world tour of 2010.
The How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular takes every advantage of the space within the arena in order to transport the audience into a mythical world of Vikings and flying dragons. The show features Viking warriors, 23 dragons (some with wingspans of up to 46 feet), and world-class circus artists and acrobats performing against the backdrop of a state-of-the-art, wall-to-floor immersive projection measuring more than 20,000 square feet. The dragons were created by Sonny Tilders and his team at The Creature Technology Company. The score features songs from singer-songwriter Jónsi from the Icelandic group Sigur Ros and composer John Powell, who created the original score for the feature film.
Based on the book by Cressida Cowell, it centers on the young Viking Hiccup (played by Riley Miner) the intellectual outcast of his tribe whose interactions with a dragon cause him to lead an action packed double life. He is smitten and enthralled with the tough and heroic Viking girl, Astrid (played by Gemma Nguyen), who suspects there is something suspicious about Hiccup’s day-to-day routine.
“There is really no way to describe the show by using examples,” Miner said. “It is its own separate thing. They’ve taken the most advanced puppetry in the world and put live performers next to them and said ‘perform on the arena stage!’ The directors have a lot to work with in producing this new type of theater. They tried it out with Walking with Dinosaurs and had one performer. Now they have put in a whole cast of performers. There is a lot more staging in order for the performers to have to work next to these large creatures.”
Both Riley and Nguyen talked about acting alongside their animatronic stage mates and multiple special effects.
“It was really overwhelming at first because the show is so abundant in their special effects, from the projections on the walls to flying on the dragons and interacting with them,” Nguyen said. “It gets a little overwhelming, but through a lot of rehearsal and direction and plotting every single movement, it got easier with time. The dragons are so real it makes interacting with them a lot easier.”
“My favorite part of the show is the dragons,” Miner stated. “They are really cool. You know the people working behind them and you know their personality too. The dragons are so real that they’re almost like pets. It’s almost having your dog with you on stage except that it’s a massive dragon that can fly you around and breathe fire.”
Both actors are amazed by the large crowds coming out to see the shows and look forward to their nightly interactions.
“It’s quite exhilarating walking out on stage and seeing 5,000 people out there and you’re like ‘Wow! That’s a lot of people!,’” Riley said. “Especially the first moment of the show and I stand up and look out. It’s incredible.”
“I love performing in front of the children because they’re such a genuine audience,” Nguyen said. “You can tell when they don’t like something and you can tell when they love something. It is such an awesome feeling to hear the ooohs and ahhs and wows. That’s my favorite part of the show.”
Riley’s favorite moment of the show is, not surprising, his first flight scene on the dragon.
“It’s really awesome when I bank around in front of the audience and I loot out and see everybody. It’s almost like a rock concert but at the same time I’m flying and everyone is cheering you on and I’m cheering back and it’s amazing.”
If you go:
What: Dreamworks’ How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza
When: June 27, 28 and 29 at 7 p.m.; June 30 at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and July 1 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Tickets: $29.50 – $79.50. Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com, Pennstar Box Office at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, all ticketmaster outlets, or charge by phone at (800) 745-3000.
A Few, Fun Dragon Facts:
• The production is four years in the making.
• The production has the largest number of animatronics ever to tour the globe.
• The Red Death Dragon is the largest animatronic ever built by Creature Technology Company at over 40 feet high and
60 feet wide.
• Together, the show weighs more than 200,000 pounds.
• It takes more than 160 people to set up the production in each city (the equivalent of one person working 24 hours over 70 days).
• If all the cables in the production were laid out end to end, they would stretch from Los Angeles to New York City.
• 23 Dragons with 12 dragon species represented
• Dragon wings span up to 46 feet
• Each large dragon weighs more than 2.6 tons (the size of a family car)