Dinosaurs might have been extinct for millions of years, but they are still quite alive in pop culture. And while most might be all-too familiar with Barney, the purple dino, or the Jurassic World's monstrous killer T-Rex through telly, here's a chance to see the prehistoric reptiles up close in New West.
The play, A Dinosaur Tale, will take the audience to the rugged brown terrain of the Badlands (a national park in the United States), where two 14-year-old students, Lisa and Declan are out on their field trip searching for fossils.
The story takes a sharp pivot when the kids discover a remote control that opens up a wormhole — a time route to the past — and dinosaurs start coming out.
“So now, these two kids must figure out how to deal with dinosaurs in the real world and fix the situation before they wreak havoc on our world,” said Sarah Glubish, who plays the role of Lisa in the play.
In the meantime, the audience will get to see ginormous dinosaurs walk on the stage with their long necks, pillar-like legs and loud roars.
“There is a raptor, which is the first dinosaur that comes out, and he's our main dinosaur. He becomes quite a pal to Lisa and Declan throughout the show," said Glubish. There is also a baby triceratops, a T-Rex and a triceratops.
"Then we have a parasaurolophus, which is something we all had to learn how to say," she said with a laugh.
The making of the dinosaurs
The dinosaurs, unlike Yoshi in Super Mario (video game) or Dino in the Flinstones, are not like cartoons but more like the giant towering creatures from the Land of the Lost.
Turns out, inside every dinosaur, there is a human actor controlling its movements using animatronics.
“The costumes are incredible,” said Glubish.
They are large enough to house an entire human, who in turn, makes the dinosaur’s eyes blink and move its mouth.
“And there are little video screens inside of the dinosaurs because they're (the actors) completely enclosed in the costume. So they can see out and have a visual of where they're moving,” said Glubish.
The largest dinosaur, the brachiosaurus, Glubish said, is made to move by two human actors inside of a giant puppet — one for the front legs and one for the back legs.
The team had to work closely with the sound designer who had a range of roars and growls that a dinosaur would make, said Glubish. “The actors took a lot of time to choose what sound their dinosaur would be making in that moment.”
“And so, through all that process, the puppets of the dinosaurs have become very life-like, very realistic and very much like a character in this play — each with their own personality, their own way of moving, their own way of speaking and their own responses to each moment.”
Gearing up for the grand finale in New West
For Glubish, it’s been a fun journey playing a teenager (“I obviously am not 14 years old. I'm a grown woman”) and sharing stage space with a cast that's largely all dinosaurs — one that started with the rehearsals last year, followed by the western Canadian tour of the play in early February.
They have already performed in Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan; New Westminster will be their last stop.
Each time they performed the play, Glubish recalled, “We had so much vocal response from the children."
"It seems like every time we have a new dinosaur come on the stage, there's a bigger response. I think Louis Hobson (theatre and entertainment critic), who wrote this play, has done a really terrific job of raising the excitement and the stakes with every scene.”
As for Glubish, parts of the play reminded her of the Jurassic Park series, and of the many children's Disney shows that she grew up watching — "Where there's an adventure, and where the children bond during the adventure.”
“And there's always a moment that's really scary. But then you find courage to face your fears and get through it... I feel like this play has all of that.”
Watch “A Dinosaur Tale” at Massey Theatre at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on March 18 and 19. For details and tickets, check out the Massey Theatre website.