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How to Train Your Dragon – Brief review and expanded photo album

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How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular

Three years ago, I was a huge fan of the animated movie “How to Train Your Dragon” and regular readers of my columns will already know that I also enjoyed the “Live Spectacular” version of the story that’s currently touring arenas, as I made it one of my entertainment ticket gift recommendations for the holidays (link). The live show opens in Sacramento this week, running at Sleep Train Arena from January 3-6th before moving south to Anaheim (does everything plan to move from our arena to Anaheim’s!?).

It’s no surprise that the story is solid, following the same plot as the film, with young Hiccup intent on proving himself as a dragon-fighting Viking – until he shoots down a Night Fury named Toothless and discovers that they’ve been misunderstood for generations. It’s also no surprise that a show of this scale has great creature work in the dragons, with both Dreamworks and the creative minds behind “Walking with Dinosaurs” on board – although the extent to which the animatronic dragons seem to have life and personality of their own is hard to describe from a distance. What was a greater surprise, at least to me, was the overall depth of the production as a whole.

I was expecting this to be a dragon show, from beginning to end – and the dragons are certainly amazing to watch. But this is a multi-media spectacular as much as it is an animatronic one. I’ve seen multiple theatrical productions that incorporate projected images and light effects, but here they aren’t add-ons, the entire show is immersed in them. What seem at first to be simple backdrops, with scenery changes screened on a rear wall, soon prove to be interactive as, for example, Hiccup runs along a path through the countryside while suspended against a vertical moving image of the lands surrounding his village. Or when Hiccup’s drawings and plans for a new tail wing for Toothless swirl around him, across the floor of the arena, or the Viking fleet sailing on an ocean of light. I’d be surprised if anybody who sees this, who’s involved in theater and set design, doesn’t come away thinking about ways to incorporate (or steal) at least some of the ideas. The rest of the audience will simply come away happy (I didn’t hear a single negative remark as the audience I was part of exited the venue).

I’ve included four more photographs that feature the effects, in addition to the (primarily) dragon images from two weeks ago. Although it’s hard to do the show justice in such small images and while being so distracted: As much as the adult in me wanted to take cool shots, the seven year old in me just wanted to enjoy the show.

All of the photographs here were taken at the show while it played in Fresno. For more information and ticketing visit http://www.dreamworksdragonslive.com.

Editor’s note: The “News Digest” goes out every Tuesday morning and highlights our best stories, photos and videos from the week prior. Sign me up.

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