A romp through prehistoric times

Walking With Dinosaurs’ director Ian Weller with a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex at a preview of the show at Capitol Theatre on Monday.
Walking With Dinosaurs’ director Ian Weller with a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex at a preview of the show at Capitol Theatre on Monday. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Walking With Dinosaurs - The Live Experience, a $20-million theatrical dinosaur show, will bring the Mesozoic Era to life at the Singapore Indoor Stadium

Even after 65 million years, the appeal of dinosaurs has not gone extinct.

Next Thursday, 18 life-size dinosaurs will be stomping at the Singapore Indoor Stadium at Walking With Dinosaurs - The Live Experience.

The $20-million theatrical dinosaur show is set to music and features high-technology projection and lighting effects to bring to life the Mesozoic Era, when dinosaurs walked the earth.

It is hosted and narrated by Huxley, the show's fictitious palaeontologist, a role shared by actors Dominic Rickhards and Andrew Lewis.

Nine species of dinosaurs are represented, including the carnivorous Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex), the long-necked Brachiosaurus and the plant-eating Stegosaurus with two rows of bony plates along its back.

The show's touring director Ian Waller, 49, says the enduring appeal of dinosaurs is perhaps due to the mystery surrounding these creatures.

"People are fascinated with dinosaurs because we don't really know if they're true, palaeontologists just dig up fossils from deep underground, we've never seen them. We can only imagine how they survived, how they ate and lived back then. They're almost mythical," he says.

But wonder no more, as Walking With Dinosaurs - The Live Experience depicts the dinosaurs' evolution through the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods before a massive comet struck the Earth and caused a mass extinction.

  • BOOK IT / WALKING WITH DINOSAURS — THE LIVE EXPERIENCE 

  • WHERE: Singapore Indoor Stadium, 2 Stadium Walk 

    WHEN: Aug 29 to Sep 8 

    ADMISSION: $78 to $148, via www.sportshubtix.sg and booking hotline (3158-7888)

    INFO: www.dinosaurlive.com

Every detail of the show is carefully researched, down to the colours and skin texture of the dinosaurs.

For example, the ferocious T-Rex has been updated with rudimentary feathers, based on the latest scientific research that shows the likely feathering of some species.

"It has to be as realistic and accurate as possible because the children watching can probably tell you everything about dinosaurs and will ask even more questions. It's educational as much as it's entertaining," says Waller.

Each dinosaur, depending on the size, is operated by one to three experienced performers.

The performers, who are hidden within the dinosaur or operate behind the scenes, use a series of animatronics and physical puppetry to give character to these fearsome creatures.

A moderately sized Liliensternus, which has two powerful hind legs and a long tail, can weigh up to 42kg. British performer Neal Holmes carries most of that weight on his hips on a large waist strap while controlling every movement of the creature.

It is a demanding job, but he says practice makes perfect.

"Over time, controlling a dinosaur and mimicking its movement just becomes an extension of the limb," says the 35-year-old, who has a background in acrobatics and parkour.

Based on the award-winning BBC television series of the same name aired in 1999, the show, which originated in Australia, has already played to over nine million people in more than 250 cities around the world. It last came to Singapore in 2010.

The updated production opened its world tour in the United Kingdom in July last year and is now heading to Asia.

Produced by Global Creatures, the show is promoted by Unusual Entertainment and Sliding Doors Entertainment in Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2019, with the headline 'A romp through prehistoric times'. Print Edition | Subscribe