How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular is making it’s way across the state, the country, and the globe. For only four days (12/26-12/30/12), it’s in my area at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA and we were able to see it on opening night. We arrived about half an hour before the show started and people were already beginning to file in. The area quickly filled with families of many sizes and ages. Both boys and girls were impatiently counting down the minutes as they donned their recently-purchased viking helmets featuring red and blue blinking horns.
The storyline closely followed that of the animated film and featured all the same main characters. Fans of the movie will be happy seeing their favorite scenes played out. It was the animatronic dragons, though, that caused eyes to widen and excitement to dramatically rise.
I could not get over the amazing detail put into the look, movement, and expressions. They even interacted with the audience as they freely moved on and above the stage. Each dragon was given a full and expressive personality, making them the stars of the show. I’m a bit jealous of those that bought the top VIP pass since they got to see them up-close.
There were supposed to be some 23 different dragons but we could only count 11 total, with four of those being the flying version of the same ones. The program (which is beautiful, by the way, and only $10) has some photos of hatching dragon eggs and people in dragon costumes but none in my family saw those. Maybe those were in disrepair or the truck carrying them hadn’t yet arrived. Either way, the dragons that we did see were pretty awesome. Kids just soaked up the ‘gassy’ dragon that blew smoke rings. The HUGE dragon at the end, which was enlarged even more by the body projected on the screen and the wing span crossing the entire back area, was genius.
Across the back area hung a huge set of panels. The stage floor itself was devoid of any decoration or props aside from the large circular podium which remained on stage throughout the performance. Both were used heavily as all of the scenery, backgrounds, and sets were video projections on this extended screen. Special effects included light beams, smoke, and flames that periodically burst out from six spots along the floor, from a couple of dragons, and a couple of shields.
Aside from the dragons, everything else was mediocre. The acting, costumes, choreography, music, effects, dancing (yes, dancing), stunt work, etc. were all kind of sad. Even the dialogue as monotone and stunts included spinning on cable and doing somersaults. I actually had to laugh at the underwater scene as it seemed to look like Hiccup and his father were doing charades. Projecting the props and scenery may have been a good idea but often fell flat on execution.
Oh well, that’s not what people came to see and ‘stuff’ the children were totally unconcerned with. It was evident how much they enjoyed the production, no matter how young, by the hefty bags of merchandise being carried through the parking lot. I must say, the items for sale were very cute from the ‘Toothless” beanie and plush to the Hiccup and Astrid dolls. In case you’re curious, they’re available to purchase online as well. All of this is a good lead into the upcoming television series on Cartoon Network, Dragon: Riders of Berk.
The show’s main focus was on the dragons and those did not disappoint. Even the dragon shadow puppets screamed creativity. From beginning to end, the full two-hour event is VERY family-friendly event. Not once did I hear or see a crying, or even less than content, child. The HP Pavilion was just the right setting, too, as it was clean, had a welcoming staff and bathroom lines moved quick!
If your family can’t get enough of Hiccup, Toothless, and the gang, How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular is a perfect event to experience together. You only have two more days to see it while in town so hurry and get your tickets (use this form for 15-30% off). If you haven’t yet seen the movie and are used to full-on Broadway productions, then just remind yourself that it’s for the kids…