Dragons delighted and took to the air in How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular at the United Center. The beloved 2010 Academy Award Winning DreamWorks movie came to life in a visual, breathtaking experience. I was blown away by the heights and lengths the dragons flew and immediately felt transported to a magical world where riding and playing with the fascinating creatures was reality at the United Center.
The Spectacular told the story of Hiccup (shared by Riley Miner and Rarmian Newton), a young Viking warrior who did not fit in in his village, where killing and slaying dragons was a sign of strength. Hiccup is in class to learn how to fight and slay dragons, though his teacher is very unimpressed with his skills. However, Astrid (shared by Gemma Nguyen and Sarah McCreanor), Hiccups crush, is always ready for the fight and teases Hiccup about his oddities and lack of bravery. His father Stoick (Robert Morgan), leader of their tribe, sends Hiccup out to slay a dragon and prove himself. Hiccup then meets a dragon that would change his life, Toothless, who opens his eyes to how different and harmless dragons can be. Through Toothless, Hiccup aims to show his family and friends the magic of the majestic creatures and go on the biggest adventure of his life.
DreamWorks Animation Studios and Global Creatures delivered an experience unlike any I had seen before. I truly felt like I was part of a fantastic animated video game! The graphics of beautiful landscapes, dragons’ lairs and seascapes were projected onto the floor and gigantic wall in the arena. The actors and dragons were elevated up high so it actually looked as if they were walking up a big mountain or falling off of a cliff. I had never experienced that before and it felt so unique to be a part of that virtual experience, directed by Nigiel Jamieson, produced by Peter England and costume designs by Dan Pontra. The actors roles were very physically demanding, as they ran, jumped, tumbled, slid, and danced for a great majority of the show. Their acrobatic nature truly emulated that of their corresponding movie characters, which was fantastic to see. The beautiful soundtrack, composed by John Powell with compositions from Jonsi from Sigur Ros, accompanied the realistic landscaped backdrops and set the moods for each scene. I was truly amazed by the details of the 23 dragons created by Sonny Tilders and the team at The Creature Technology Company. Everything from their movement and flight, to their colors and skin, to their hysterical gas noises, to their teeth and eyes, to their breaths of smoke and lasers to replace the fire, was sensationally accurate and amazing to see in action. I wanted to jump on one of the dragons and fly! It was truly one of those events where I smiled for the entire show.
I came to the show with high expectations, since the movie was very one-of-a-kind, and How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular exceeded every one. The sheer number of dragons flying was quite impressive and the heartfelt acting and story line truly made the dragons come to life. I left with such an appreciation for the animated arts and was in such awe of the beautifully crafted creatures. It was an unforgettable event.
Images by Todd Kaplan, Lisa Tomasetti