How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular | Review
Dreamworks' How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular, based on the fine 2010 animated film about the adventures of Viking-in-exile Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III and his dragon companion Toothless, outshines recent entertainments of its kind. Although it features impressively large animatronic beasts (and some humans scampering around in creature costumes) like the similar Walking with Dinosaurs, How to Train Your Dragon skips the educational gloss in favor of a meaty story (all 29 scenes of it) that essentially re-creates the movie version onstage. Boy meets dragon, boy loses dragon, and then boy gets dragon, girl and the much-sought respect of his hard-headed father. This production also eclipses the version of Peter Pan seen in Chicago last year under the big top at Freedom Center, by squeezing every possible thrill out of its stellar projection system. Where Peter and Wendy took a few memorable flights over London and the English countryside, the Dragon crew soars over the ocean, dives into the fiery depths of a dragon's nest and sends young Hiccup on a video-game-like perpendicular sprint across innumerable pitfalls as he hangs halfway up the production's back wall. It's mesmerizing stuff.
There are low-tech delights as well, including a shadow-puppet sequence straight out of a Red Moon show and a thrilling depiction of an underwater dragon rescue that relies largely on floating bubbles and well-choreographed actors to sell the effect. The dialogue is a bit leaden, the adult acting is hammy and dragon fart jokes abound, but overall this How to Train Your Dragon lives up to its billing as spectacular.