Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Barney, It's Not

I knew Cobo Arena was a throwback place, but I had no idea.

The folks from across the pond in the U.K. are transforming Cobo into prehistoric Earth, thanks to their "Walking with Dinosaurs" show, playing downtown now thru Sunday.

I managed to get to opening night last night with my 16-year-old daughter while mom sat home. The good people at Olympia Entertainment were only able to provide me with two review tickets for opening night, not three, but it's still much appreciated.

Especially since they put on such a fantastic show.

"Walking" is a 90-minute romp through the hundreds of millions of years when dinosaurs roamed this planet. The show is narrated by a modern day "paleontologist" who, in full gear, guides you through the various stages of the dinosaurs' existence. He's on stage with wireless mike/headset, energetically explaining what it is that you're experiencing.

And it's quite a sight.

The dinosaurs---some mechanical, some manned by people inside---are every bit as realistic-looking as anything you've seen in the "Jurassic Park" flicks. And some of them are VERY big.



But the show starts with the very small---hatching eggs from which peek out babies who are gyrating and bobbing and weaving like newborn chicks. But alas, as the narrator points out, there were predators from the get go, and one of the babies isn't so lucky; he/she is carted off in the mouth of a hungry adult. All while the Cobo Arena crowd went "Awwww!" in unison.

We're treated to conflicts and territorial fights. Inflatable "vegetation" sprouts from the sidelines.

The main event is, of course, the appearance of a gigantic T-Rex, who arrives when her offspring is under attack.

The roaring is loud, the sound effects---especially when rain and fire are depicted---are spot on, and our narrator/guide comes off very credible and likable.

The show pauses after about 35 minutes for a 20-minute intermission, then gets rolling again for another 40+ minutes.

It's one of those rarities nowadays: wholesome family entertainment, performed live. The dinosaurs, while realistic, aren't so terrifying that youngsters will have nightmares. At least, I don't think so.

The tails sway and if you sit up close like we did, you almost feel like you have to duck at times.

Personally, I think I got more of a kick out of watching our daughter, who's been wanting to see "Walking" for over a year, enjoy the show than I did anything else.

Eventually, though, the narrator talks about the comet that hits Earth, and you know that the end is near---for the dinosaurs, and for "Walking."

All in all, "Walking" was a neat way to spend 100 minutes downtown, in venerable Cobo, where today's mayor used to make his living, back in the day.

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