REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

How to Train Your Dragon


Live Spectacularunited center, chicago

An adaptation of the film by Nigel Jamieson

Directed by Nigel Jamieson

Music by John Powell & Jonsi

Music Supervisor Max Lambert

Produced by Dreamworks

At the United Center, Chicago

Live actors,  animated video, and, of course, dragons thrill children and adults

When a live show takes up the entire floor of the United Center (home to the Chicago Bulls basketball team and the Chicago Black Hawks) you know its a spectacular event. There are 23 dragons of various sizes and attitudes; 85 cast and crew members; 7,000 feet of bungee cord; 18 truck batteries; 885 feet of hydraulic hose; 430 feet of foam; and, each of the large dragons weights 1.6  tons – you know its something special. It sure is a major event–as the best elements of large-scale animation video meets vivid lighting and with actors and dragons flying about over the audience produces the setting for the group of Viking (sporting a thick Scottish brogue?) as they struggle to train fighters to become dragon-slayers. The real joy in this show comes from the dragons-all 23 of them including, Toothless- who befriends Hiccup (Ramian Newton) and saves the Vikings from hard by the evil dragon.

This live shownicely blends live stage action with vivid video, extreme lighting and heart-pounding music. Thrills come when  Hiccup rides his dragon friend Toothless around and over head. I never saw the animated film by Dreamworks so I can’t comment on how this live show adheres to the film but the principles behind the film are involved with this show. I believe with the hordes of children present, that the two hour length is a tad too long and, be warned, some children me be scared into nightmares by the amazingly realistic dragons. To me they look like dinosaurs with wings- but I’ve never seen a dragon!

This is a technical and creative major triumph. Despite needing a 20 minute trim, How to Train Your Dragon is a family treat that the kids will enjoy. With tickets ranging from $35.50 to $120, it may seem a tad pricey but when you seem all the work and craft involve, you understand. The North American tour only stops in Chicago and other cities for 4 days. With all the set-up and tear-down and the movement of the cast and the equipment, Dragons must be a logistical   nightmare – probably as show worth watching.  I was amazed at the creativity of this spectacle. You do get enough thrills to  justify seeing this entertaining show.


Tom Williams

For more info checkout the How to Train Your Dragon page at – only in Chicago until Jul;y 29, 2012

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