While not all the kids at Sunday’s Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo got a chance to get on stage at the Chrysler Theatre and touch one of the ancient creatures, they and their accompanying adults enjoyed a smart and accessible crash course on prehistoric predators and herbivores courtesy of the popular and very delightful Australian touring show.
Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo is actually quite remarkable. They brought dinosaur puppets of all shapes and sizes to life in an hour-long blast from the past. It felt a bit like The Muppets without the flashy personalities, even though each dinosaur brought their own unique disposition and temperament.
Show host Charlie Jhaye was incredible as she both educated and entertained not only the children, but the adults. Her strong Australian accent added to the overall presentation and she had a charm that captivated everyone as much as the dinosaurs themselves.
The show began with a visit from three cute baby dinosaurs, a T-Rex, a Hadrosaur and a Triceratops. Those same dinosaurs were available in a more personal manner, in one-on-one meetings and photos after the show, but for the on-stage segment, three lucky youngsters were invited on stage to interact with them.
At one point there were a couple mechanical Meganeura flying around the theatre. These guys were fairly big and were flown around the audience by their puppeteers. The Meganeura, which look like giant dragonflies, pre-dated the dinosaurs and are one of the largest insects ever to have lived on the planet. During their audience flight, many were able to touch the wings and gaze into their giant eyes.
We also saw a pair of Leaellynasaura. These plant-eaters have a body the size of a turkey, but with long legs and a really long tail. The female puppet was a bit friendlier than the male one and allowed one child to interact with her.
Things were a bit more fun when the Triceratops came out. This rhino-looking guy was a bit bigger than anything at that point and looked quite menacing, mostly because of the three horns on its head. The Triceratops was taller than Jhaye and made a few snarls and growls, including one fun moment where she insulted the intelligence of the creature and it twisted its head in disappointment.
The show reached a high-point when one very cute girl from the audience was brought on stage to meet the hairy T-Rex. Although this puppet was nowhere near the 20 feet height of what a real Tyranosaurus would have been, he was tall enough to make everyone take notice. Jhaye was great at hyping up the meat-eater as it suffered a toothache and had the audience astounded when she invited the girl to stick her head in the T-Rex’s mouth. It was super entertaining to watch.
The show closed with a very long neck of a Titanosaur peeking out from backstage. There’s absolutely no way they would have been able to host a 115-foot life-sized version of the giant plant-eating dinosaur inside the Chrysler Theatre, so the long neck had to do. The Titanosaur slithered its neck about and really gave the audience a taste of what the largest known animal to ever walk the Earth might have been like.
The puppeteers were astonishing and made everything seem pretty lifelike. I was so captivated by the T-Rex that during the segment, I forgot these were puppets. It felt more like an interactive movie or cartoon.
Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo is a great show for children and adults alike – both were treated with respect and intelligence throughout the show. While it is a kids show at heart, one could only wonder what an adult-only version would be like if they ever decided to give it a try – I’d be down for that and most certainly any return engagement they might have here in Windsor #YQG.
Photos by Dan Savoie