If you have trouble packing for a trip, try squeezing a six feet tall, 14 inch long, 100 pound dinosaur puppet into a suitcase for air travel.
On Saturday, Oct. 7, eight such “loveable creatures” accompanied by six puppeteers will stalk the stage of the Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center when E & M Presents brings the interactive, family-friendly, Napa Valley premiere of “Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live” with shows at 1 and 3 p.m. For tickets and information, visit www.eandm.eventbrite.com or call 707-224-4353.
“Dinosaur Zoo Live” takes audiences on an incredible ride through prehistoric Australia to observe, meet and interact with an eye-popping collection of amazingly life-like dinosaurs and other creatures.
Presented in a theatrical performance, the show will entertain kids while stimulating their imaginations. The highly popular work, with 175 shows over eight months during last year alone, was brought to life by a team of skilled performers and designed with the help of professional paleontologists.
During the past five years, trainer and puppeteer Miron Gusso has been living and breathing dinosaurs. In the show, produced by the Australian-based Erth Visual and Physical, Inc., Gusso dons the puppet of Tyrannosaurus rex, one of the largest carnivores to prowl the planet. Recently, a teenage Triceratops also worn by Gusso has been added to the cast of colorful dinosaurs.
In a recent Washington Post article, Gusso shared some of the mechanics of wearing and manipulating these large, intricately-created apparatuses:
“It’s designed to be as comfortable as possible for the performer inside. While some of Erth’s puppets are manipulated with the traditional hand-up-the-backside method, the Triceratops and the other larger lizards are worn. It’s built around a camping backpack. We strap it on, and there’s support around the lumbar, chest and arms. When we’re wearing it, the alignment is perfect — actors stand with shoulders over hips over toes.”
Everything the audience sees on stage for “Dinosaur Zoo Live” is mobile. Some of the dinosaur puppets can fit into a container the size of a breadbox, while the larger ones with different appendages come apart and are packed into crates for trucking.
“The look of the new Triceratops proved to be a little too real,” Gusso said. “When it was shipped from Australia to the U.S., federal agents held the puppet in customs for five days, thinking it might contain actual dinosaur fossils smuggled from Down Under!”
One hour prior to each show, free arts activities take place in the theater lobby; after the shows, kids will have the opportunity to pet a baby dinosaur puppet and meet the cast.