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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Time travel promises roaring results

    “”After 65 million years … they’re back!”” Such is the slogan of arena spectacular “”Walking With Dinosaurs.””

    The dinosaurs, which will make eight appearances at the Tucson Convention Center starting today and ending Sunday, were originally built to mimic the viewing experience of the BBC’s animated faux documentary but on a larger scale.

    The point of the documentary, said show spokesperson Mattew Rimmer, was to make the audience believe it was real.

    The full-scale theatrical performance maintains that lofty goal.

    Made mostly of metal armature and hydraulics with a skin of stretched and treated latex-covered spandex, the dinosaurs took six years and $20 million to create.

    The dinosaurs are controlled differently based on their size. Aside the babies, most require three operators: One inside, one remote to control eye movement, sounds and one “”voodoo puppeteer”” who, according to associate tour manager Nellie Beavers, “”runs a rig that is set up in the audience.”” The voodoo puppeteer moves a miniature dinosaur spine and the big version moves along with it.

    “”Walking With Dinosaurs”” selected the best puppeteers in the field drawing, according to Beavers, from those with experience ranging from Sesame Street to The Muppets to movies.

    The project was expensive and labor-intensive but it all paid off.

    “”(The dinosaurs) do everything you would expect a real dinosaur to do,”” Rimmer said. “”They roar and snarl and have fluid movements.””

    During the course of the paleontologist-led trip through key periods in dinosaur history, the animals can be observed in a myriad of likely situations.

    “”You’ll see them protecting their young and fighting,”” Rimmer said. “”All of the dinosaurs have a different personality which we don’t think about.””

    But what they all share is enormous scale. The baby Tyrannosaurus rex, which appeared in Main Gate Square on Saturday, is a six-month-old monster at seven feet tall and 14 feet long. And that’s the littlest one.

    The biggest, according to Rimmer, is the mama Brachiosaurus. She’s 36 feet tall and 56 feet from nose to tail.

    There are currently 17 such creatures touring the U.S. together and present in Tucson.

    “”There’s really nothing like it in terms of scale,”” Rimmer said. To put it in perspective, he mentioned transportation, saying that the show employs 25 full-sized semis, whereas a typical rock ‘n’ roll tour would use 12 to 15.

    For those with small children or nervous dispositions, Beavers offered reassurance. “”It’s not scary so much as it is loud,”” she said.

    “”It’s a very up-close look,”” Rimmer added. “”You get to feel what it’s like to be in the presence of a dinosaur.

    “”And this,”” he said, “”is not a purple dinosaur.””

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