dragonlive-icon dragonlive-icon
Feature Film

PREVIEW: “How to Train Your Dragon” Stage Show

Check out this impressive preview of one of the “cast members” from the upcoming $20 million-plus How to Train Your Dragon arena show that opens next March in Melbourne and Sydney. After striking out with the Shrek musical (which is performing better in London than New York), DreamWorks appears to be on the right track with its second stage effort. They’ve outsourced the show’s creative direction to the Sydney, Australia firm Creature Technology Company, the animatronics arm of Global Creatures, which previously created a successful arena show based on the BBC series “Walking with Dinosaurs.”

From the Brisbane Times:

[The show will include] at least 24 dragons for a show that will include acrobats and aerial artists, projections and flying creatures. The five-tier set will be backed by a 60-metre screen and the action will unfold on 1000 square metres of stage studded with projectors to provide an immersive experience. . . . ”DreamWorks didn’t want us to be the same as the film. They wanted us to create something new and magical,” [said the show’s director Nigel Jamieson.] ”We were looking for people with physical skills and humour, and clowning, but also with youthful skills. So we’ve very much taken up the hip-hop and parkour kind of thing. It’s a very different sort of cast and DreamWorks have been very supportive of that.”

  • Toonio

    Sweet mother of pearl, THERE IS animation beyond the paper and the pencil.

  • Now that’s cool. (Although for twenty million bucks it better look awesome.)

  • Frank

    Let’s hope this has a story and characters strong enough to make an audience care.

    • whippsersnapper

      I think the giant fully animated robot dragon will be enough for people regardless.

      • Bruce Wright

        Puppet, not robot. There’s people inside.

      • whippsersnapper

        Oh ok, I didn’t know.

  • uncle wayne

    that is about as astounding an image as can be!! I remember they had trouble with the giant (Sleeping Beauty) Dragon in Disney….but this looks even MORE imprssive! How dooo datt DOO datt??

    • snip2346

      DreamWorks should’ve turned to them to build the Dragon for the Shrek musical! Never seen it? Let’s just say I can confuse it with a bunch of red cloth drapes I arranged on my parents’ furniture when I was 6!

  • Warhead

    Damn, those animatronics look like they hopped off the screen!

  • Good lord, those animatronics look incredible! I’m not very familiar with stage shows. I had know idea that we could make stuff like that!

  • tgentry

    This makes me wonder why it cost the Spiderman musical three times as much to swing some actors around on cables. Great look animatronics.

    • Actually, it cost ten times as much.

  • Dana B

    E-yup, I’m definitely seeing this when it comes around next year :D
    The details on that dragon(Deadly Nadder, I assume.) are unbelievable! I can’t wait to see the other dragons, especially the Monstrous Nightmare dragon! And Toothless, of course ;)

  • Cath


  • I keep looking at the big wheeled sled underneath the dragon with the stalk rammed into the dragon’s gut. It’s all I can see. It drives me crazy.

    • Dan Kyder

      Some better stage lighting and use of floor fog can almost eliminate that entirely. I’m guessing they aren’t yet in full show conditions since they are only rehearsing and it wouldn’t be worth paying to run foggers for that

      There has to be a level of forced ignorance on behalf of the audience though, for obvious physics reasons.
      But they’ve made the little shuttle more discreet than ever this time and it has much more mobility in a smaller stage it seems.

      There are massive improvements on their last generation and they are definitely leading the industry in this level of puppetry though.

  • Scarabim

    This dragon looks much more impressive than does the Maleficent dragon at Disneyland, if only because the Disney dragon’s movements are so limited and it’s too rubbery-smooth, while the dragon in that video CAN ACTUALLY WALK AROUND and is breathtakingly detailed. Unbelievable. I wish we were shown the Toothless dragon, I bet he’s AWESOME.

    Sure hope this show comes to the States. I will DEFINITELY go to see it if it does.

  • Christine

    Now I understand the post awhile back where a ‘dinosaur’ visited Dreamworks over their lunch hour…


  • dbenson

    Important to remember this is a very sophisticated puppet, not a “pure” animatronic. Perhaps you can program a walk like that, and maybe the puppeteer is in some sort of rig outside the dragon, but there’s something “hand drawn” about the movements.

  • looniINmiami

    My jaw dropped.

  • Larry

    Just to clarify an inaccuracy in your article: you wrote “They’ve outsourced the show’s creative direction to the Sydney, Australia firm Creature Technology Company”, but that’s not entirely true. Dreamworks’ CCO Bill Damaschke (the number two guy under Jeffrey K) is overseeing creative, and a bunch of artists who designed the movie have worked on the live show. They even flew Pierre-Olivier Vincent (the movie’s production designer) to Australia to oversee…

  • eeteed

    if you’re lucky enough to get to see this incredible show be sure to watch it wearing an eye patch, because if you view it with both eyes the 3d experience would surely be underlit, fuzzy, and gimmicky.

  • ”DreamWorks didn’t want us to be the same as the film. They wanted us to create something new and magical,”

    You think they will include Toothless/Night Fury?
    I’d imagine his mannerisms are much harder to achieve compared to the other dinosaur-like dragons.
    I will be very impressed if they get him right. :)

  • That’s a sweet dragon! I’ve seen the same sort of stuff done with dinosaurs several times in the past but it’s neat to see something so whimsical.

  • Brian Kidd

    It’s an impressive bit of stagecraft. Imagine, though, how many legitimately creative and original pieces of Theatre could be created with the money spent on one soulless spectacle. Real Theatre is dying.