Dinosaurs tour a massive undertaking
By Ken Tucker
NASHVILLE (Billboard) - Look out, Barney. There's a new dinosaur on the family touring scene.
Actually, there are several. Walking With Dinosaurs: The Live Experience stomped onto the Australian and North American touring radar in 2007. After launching in Australia early in the year, the show segued to North America in summer 2007 via a partnership with Arena Network, a consortium of nearly 50 arenas in the United States, Canada and Mexico. It quickly became one of the top five family shows of the last 12 months, according to figures reported to Billboard Boxscore.
A collaboration between BBC Worldwide and Creature Production Co., the show is based on acclaimed BBC documentary series "Walking With Dinosaurs," which first aired in 1999 in the United Kingdom and subsequently came to North America on the Discovery Channel.
The six-episode TV series is the most expensive documentary series ever made, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, and the tour is also an expensive proposition. Roughly $20 million has been spent thus far to create the dinosaurs and launch the tour.
The massive undertaking involves 27 53-foot tractor-trailers and 65 crew members, including lighting technicians, engineers, puppeteers, actors, sound people and carpenters.
"We bring everything from the flooring to the rigging, to the lighting, sound and obviously the dinosaurs themselves," says resident director Cameron Wenn, who travels with the show and is charged with ensuring that the experience is consistent from city to city. The show is limited to arenas that can host hockey games because of the floor space needed for the giant animatronic dinosaurs.
Ten species are represented in the show's 15 creatures, which were built in Melbourne. Among the dinosaurs are a mother and daughter Tyrannosaurus Rex and a 38-foot-tall brachiosaurus. "She's as tall as a three- to four-story building," Wenn says. Continued...