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January 9, 2011

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Dinosaurs walk the Earth again

IMAGINE being transported 65 million years back in time to see life-sized dinosaurs roaming and roaring right in front of you.

Alli Coyne, resident director of "Walking with Dinosaurs - The Arena Spectacular," which debuts on January 19, assured readers of Shanghai Daily that the live adaptation of BBC's award-winning television series will be a worthwhile journey.

"Time flies as you travel through 65 million years with the gigantic creatures," she said. "From the smallest baby dinosaurs hatching out of eggs to the huge T Rex and every other dinosaur - the sheer size will astound you."

Premiering in Australia in January 2007, the show has toured more than 140 cities, attracting more than 6.5 million spectators and taking US$440 million at the box office.

During its five-day stay in Shanghai, 10 performances, including two English-language shows, will be staged.

Coyne is a veteran innovative theater director and choreographer of major productions including musicals, pantomimes, plays and all forms of dance in the UK, Europe and the USA.

Q: How long did it take to prepare this show? What's the budget?

A: The development of the idea into a show took eight years and US$20 million.

Q: What are some highlights?

A: There are so many highlights. Of course, the life-size dinosaurs are the stars. The atmosphere of the show is created with amazing lighting and projections onto the arena floor. The floor of the arena changes from ice to dessert to grassland as the earth's surface evolves and changes through time. The scenery is magnificent and shows the different continents as they move on the tectonic plates and create new continents. The music adds to the atmosphere. You feel the emotions of the dinosaurs through the music because, of course, the dinosaurs cannot talk.

Q: What is your favorite part?

A: Everyone will find their special part. For many people it is when the T Rex comes onto the stage; for others it's when the two brachiosaurs roam through the trees. I like the raptors because they remind me of animals today. You really get a feeling of evolution.

Q: What were the biggest production challenges?

A: The challenges are almost as huge as the dinosaurs. Getting 20 live-size dinosaurs across the world is a challenge in itself. But the biggest challenge as been getting the dinosaurs to walk naturally like animals walk. One interesting thing to look for is the feet of the T Rex. As it lifts its feet, the toes of its webbed feet close, and then as it puts its foot down, the toes splay out. This is the same as birds today. These seemingly little details are part of why the dinosaurs look so real.

Q: What's your target audience in Shanghai?

A: Everyone who enjoys live entertainment will love this show. You don't have to have kids to come to the show; you just have to be young at heart. I have seen grown men transported back to their boyhood when they played with their toy dinosaurs. Seeing the children's faces as the dinosaurs first appear is pure magic and hearing them laugh and cheer is what live-experience entertainment is all about. This is a show for families, couples and anyone who wants an unforgettable experience seeing dinosaurs walk the earth again.

Q: What are the sizes of the dinosaurs? The biggest and the smallest?

A: The smallest dinosaurs hatches out of eggs and the largest almost reaches the lights in the roof of the arena. The tallest is 11 meters.

Everyone will have their favorite dinosaur, perhaps the stegosaurus or the allosaurus, which are not as big as the huge brachiosaurus but double the height of the average person.


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