Go 'Walking With Dinosaurs' in big arena show

There’s nothing quite like the thunderous roar of a Tyrannosaurus rex — especially when it’s staring you right in the face. With the technological marvel of, say, Samsung’s 102-inch plasma TV, enjoying such an experience would seem to be as a simple as popping in a DVD of “Jurassic Park” and activating surround sound.

But if you don’t happen to have the wads of cash necessary to afford such a monster monitor, there’s an alternative means of getting up close and personal with the gigantic prehistoric beast. It comes courtesy of the live theatrical show “Walking With Dinosaurs.”

Taking a page from the riveting BBC series, “Walking With Dinosaurs — The Live Experience” brings a cast of 15 primordial reptiles back from extinction to roam the Earth — OK, so maybe it’s actually an arena — once again.

Beginning Wednesday, the Brachiosaurus and its brethren condense the 200-million-year reign of the dinosaur into a family-friendly, two-hour production at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.

“There’s really nothing like this show on the planet,” says head puppeteer Matt McCoy. “It’s not a preprogrammed show; everything is being done by remote control. There are a lot of benchmarks being made, no one has ever really attempted this level of complexity with animatronics.”

Brought to the States from Australia by the folks at Immersion Edutainment, “Walking With Dinosaurs” comes to life at the hands of master puppeteers responsible for every subtle, and not so subtle, movement.

From the recent Stars Wars Trilogy to “The Chronicles of Narnia,” top puppeteers have been brought on board for the project.

To put into perspective the work necessary to create this type of production, it took roughly a year for a team of 50 artists, engineers, painters, skin makers and tech wizards to create the 45-foot-tall and 75-foot- long Brachiosaurus.

“They are incredibly lifelike; the closer you get the more you can see just how much detail there is,” McCoy says. “It’s really state of the art.”

In addition to the big guys, smaller-scale dinosaurs are operated by puppeteers wearing suits that weigh about 80 pounds.

The show, however, is more than just a spectacle of technological innovation; it’s also, dare we say, educational. The character Huxley, the paleontologist and narrator of the program, navigates the prehistoric journey and spouts facts from the award-winning BBC series.

The actor’s script was actually verified by working paleontologists and the BBC producers of “Walking With Dinosaurs” for accuracy.

“I don’t know if I’ve done this show 300 times now, but it’s still new and different for me,” McCoy says. “No one gets complacent; the collective personalities controlling the dinosaurs make for something new each time. What you are seeing is the first and only of its kind and it is truly a unique experience.”

IF YOU GO

Walking With Dinosaurs — The Live Experience

Where: HP Pavilion, 525 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Thursday; 3:30 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday; 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday; 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Dec. 31

Tickets: $30 to $70

Contact: (408) 998-8497; www.ticketmaster.com

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