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'Live Spectacular' entertains with comedy, fight scenes

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[/media-credit] Hiccup scratching the “puppet” Toothless dragon on the chin.

How to Train Your Dragon performance impressive and exciting

Actors scramble, slide and skid for cover as a deep roar rumbles across through the auditorium. Fire erupts from the stage, so close the audience can feel the heat. Across the stage comes a huge, red dragon who lumbers across the room. He blinks, tosses his head and spits smoke as the actor’s shields burst into flames.

Actors raise their swords and axes and lurch forward with a yell. The dragon stretches it’s wings open as it spits smoke at them. A battle is stirring. The How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular presented a show like this, with emotional actors and moving, blinking, flying dragons.

The How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular, held in the Fresno Save Mart Center, showcased mechanical dragons, spectacular effects and choreographed fights in the life re-telling of Dreamworks’s How to Train Your Dragon film, Dec. 20, 21 and 22.

The show began with the Dreamworks logo projected onto the wall. The main character, Hiccup, played by both Riley Miner and Rarmian Newton at different showings, came out to the stage with a fishing pole. Using more projections, the floor would ripple as he cast it. As he pulled it back for another cast, it seemed to get hooked on the projection on the screen. With a tug he “ripped” it off the screen and began to introduce the story.

Projections were used quite a lot for the telling of the story and created a very cool effect. In the beginning of the story, dragons attacked the village the vikings live in, known as Berk. Hiccup was secured into a harness and began to run on the wall, where the ground was projected, as if you were watching from above. The view would change as Hiccup ran, all the while still looking pretty convincing.

Projections were continually used to make location changes and even help simulate flying and humongous dragon known as The Red Death, which is so big they only built it’s head and tail.

The actors themselves put a lot of emotion into the acting. While most people only hear their voice and see their actions from high in the stands, those close enough to the performance can witness the emotion in their faces. Each actor put lots of emotion into their voice, actions and expressions.

The storyline was tweaked to make telling it in live-action more possible, but stuck very close to the original movie. With this said, there were a lot of battles against the dragons during the viking training scenes. The scenes were well choreographed, with actors cartwheeling, rolling and flying around in a harness.

The animatronic dragons themselves were operated by three people. A puppeteer controls the main movements of the body, the auxiliary worker controls the facial expressions and one person controls and steers the dragon. The dragons were very detailed, from the shading of the scales and detail in the horns and claws to looking like their teeth were covered in spit or their nose was running.

The main dragon, Toothless, was even capable of curling his lips in disgust like in the movie. They can stretch their wings and flap them while leaping about, and even spew smoke out of their mouths. The dragons were created by Global Creatures.

Some of the dragons flew as well as walked. Toothless was the one dragon ridden the most. Hiccup would climb up into a saddle on the animatronic dragons back and strap himself in. He would flap and take off, gliding through the air and close to the audience.

The show also offered many other visual effects, such as props and shields that would burst into flames. Hiccup would seemingly draw on the screen or ground and the drawings would appear at the same time as projections. This created a visual effect that made it seem like you were watching him draw up close.

The show also took advantages of many puppets and shadow puppets, casting shadows up on the screen to illustrate different dragons and their abilities. Puppets were also used to represent boats approaching the shore.

The story was told well and was entertaining for people of all ages. The humor such as the vikings dancing before their training. There was also humor older attenders could laugh at. The acting, effects and dragons were captivating and kept the audience entertained.

The costumes the vikings wore were detailed, with cloaks that looked like fur. The armor was convincing and the clothes looked like the character’s in the movie. They were altered a bit made to make it easier to move, roll and do other active things.

All-in-all the show was attracting and presented quite well. The show took advantage of the many things available to us today with technology and was able to tell a story set back when there was no electronics. The show was humorous and entertaining, and a wonderful thing to go see with friends or family.

For more reviews, read the Jan. 14 article, Adventure game provides engaging story.

Follow The Feather via Twitter and Instagram: @thefeather and @thefeatheronline. This writer can be reached via Twitter: @ejLadd

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