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Walk the dinosaur: Puppeteers bring prehistoric pals to Proctors

Walk the dinosaur: Puppeteers bring prehistoric pals to Proctors

'We tell kids there's nothing like this anymore. That's part of the mystery and the attraction'
Walk the dinosaur: Puppeteers bring prehistoric pals to Proctors
Life-size and life-like dinosaurs will take over Proctors MainStage next Friday night.
Photographer: Provided

Dinosaurs on movie screens can't bother people.

Prehistoric animals on theater stages can bother people — and will.

An assortment of long-necked, big-mouthed creatures will pester and poke people at Proctors in Schenectady next Friday, March 16.

Miron Gusso and his friends will bring puppet creatures from Erth's "Dinosaur Zoo Live!" to the theater's MainStage. The show will begin at 7 p.m.

"We have about a dozen or so creatures, dinosaurs, some more prehistoric than others," said Gusso, one of four puppeteers who will walk the dinosaurs at Proctors. "They range from small hand puppets to large suits where puppeteers get inside and operate these large puppets."

The show originated in Sydney, Australia. In 1990, artists and technicians at Erth Visual and Physical began building giant puppets, stilt-walkers, inflatable environments and flying creatures. Erth's first dinosaur show was designed for Australian school children, and showed them the kind of dinosaurs that once roamed their country.

Gusso said "Dinosaur Zoo Live!" in the states features dinosaurs that once lived in North America. Some kids and their parents will see a tyrannosaurus rex, titanosaur, baby dinosaurs, triceratops, plesiosaur and a dragonfly-like meganeura — a large insect — up close. Members of the audience make appearances on stage.

"Our largest dinosaur is about 30 feet long, a sauropod," Gusso said. "It's a large, plant-eating dinosaur that takes over the entire stage.

"We have dinosaurs they've never heard of," Gusso added. "We talk about different aspects of their health, their herd mentality and just their natural way of life."

Gusso believes children are fascinated by dinosaurs because of their mythical natures. These are creatures that once walked the earth, he said, but have been gone for multiple millions of years.

The dinosaurs' public relations firm — Hollywood — has kept the animals' personalities and profiles alive. The "Jurassic Park" and new "Jurassic World" film series have both been successful. 

Film fans marveled at the fearsome and toothsome stars of the the 2015 "Jurassic World" movie. Those dinosaurs and their associates will return this summer in "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom."

"They were these larger than life creatures, so big," Gusso said. "We tell kids there's nothing like this anymore. That's part of the mystery and the attraction."

There's no mystery about the popularity contest. Gusso said the show's T-Rex always brings down the house.

"These dinosaur puppets are so expressive," Gusso said. "This takes skill and the majority of the props go to the designers. And when they make a dinosaur, it's always modeled after a real dinosaur fossil."

It's even OK for the kids to be a little afraid. The dinosaurs will have life-like moves and roars; but the puppeteers will be visible. Kids will know these are dinosaurs that were made in a lab, not born in the wild.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at wilkin@dailygazette.com.


Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Live!

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, March 16
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
HOW MUCH: $20-$75
MORE INFO: www.proctors.org

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