I got to see “real, live” fire-breathing dragons. What did YOU do last night? 😉
Tom, TJ, and I headed down to the Times Union Center in Albany, New York for opening night of DreamWorks How to Train Your Dragon Live. We spent more than 10 minutes in traffic while less than one mile from the venue, which made for a mad rush to get to the media desk at the box office to pick up our tickets before the show. Although we’d planned on arriving 30 minutes before the show, we didn’t get to our seats until about five minutes before the 7:00 start time. Of course, these things never start exactly on time anyways, so it was a few minutes after 7:00 when we got the five minute warning. That’s when I took my picture of the empty set.
This was the last picture I was able to take of the performance space, because one of the vikings announced that flash photography scares the dragons, and the camera on my phone is useless without the flash. While not everyone respected this, I did. (Thankfully, they gave me access to press photos to use.) And it’s a good thing, because I terrified a little girl behind us by taking a photo of TJ holding his new Toothless toy during intermission; I listened to her parents explain that none of the dragons were out yet, so the flash couldn’t frighten them. Before I get to my review of the show, here’s that picture…we waited in line for almost the entire intermission to get this $25 Toothless toy. If you go to the show and plan on buying souvenirs, please bring cash, as the single credit card machine at each vendor station is slow and holds up the line.
How to Train Your Dragon Live Show Review
I have to start by saying that the dragons were amazing. All of the work that went into creating all of these walking, flying, fire-breathing dragons…what a phenomenal job they did. They looked so realistic that I had to lean over and remind TJ that they weren’t real; they were robots. He was getting nervous during the opening dragon attacks. I can’t say I blame him – the pyrotechnics were also incredible, and you could feel the heat from the flames. We had to explain to him during intermission that yes, it was real fire, but no, we were not in danger. It’s hard to explain to a kid, especially a kid with Asperger’s, that everything you’ve taught them about fire safety doesn’t necessarily apply at events like this, because people have gone through special training in the safe use of fire in shows like this. To give you some idea of what we were up against, here’s a great picture from the opening of the second act where the Nightmare attacks the vikings during the opening of the Dragon Games.
You can see one of several spouts of fire they had set up around the perimeter of the arena floor here, and the use of the projections for the floor and backdrop scenery made everything look that much more realistic. I was really impressed with how they integrated the projector into the show, turning the floor into everything from forest to underwater to pools of lava to Hiccup’s bedroom floor, where he sketched out plans to fix Toothless’s broken tail wing.
Astrid and Hiccup. Each of the roles has two actors who share it, and I can understand why. (For our performance, Rarmian Newton and Sarah McCreanor played Hiccup and Astrid. They are pictured above.) Hiccup does an amazing amount of acrobats throughout the entire show. Early on, he makes a run through the forest, up mountains, across bridges, plummeting almost to his death…all while suspended parallel to the floor while the treacherous terrain is projected onto the rear wall. It was like something out of a video game, but he was the character. I was really impressed with the amount of coordination required from the projection booth, the actor, and the person holding the tension rope to raise and lower him as needed. TJ, of course, just laughed at the entire sequence as poor Hiccup had rocks crumble, bridges fall, and other calamities befall him on his journey.
Astrid’s role didn’t seem as physically demanding at first, but she got quite a workout in the second act…and she was always crouching in readiness whenever she was on stage. All of the kids laughed whenever she punched Hiccup, and there was much giggling and “Oooh”-ing when they kissed at the end of the show. I didn’t hear a single “Yuck!”
There were some very scary moments in the show. We’ve been watching DreamWorks Dragons: Riders of Berk on Cartoon Network with TJ, but I’d never seen the original How to Train Your Dragon movie, so I hadn’t known what to expect. Some of the dragon attacks are quite intense, and I heard more than one young child squealing in terror. As previously mentioned, I noticed TJ was very nervous at one point, so he needed to be reminded that the dragons weren’t real and the fire couldn’t hurt him. I would highly recommend telling your children these things before the start of the show so they aren’t terrified. Once reassured, TJ thought everything was really cool. And thankfully, after the particularly sad or scary scenes, the ensemble of vikings provided a bit of comic relief with their dancing and other shenanigans.
Overall, I was very impressed with the entire production. TJ had a great time, and he was so excited that he didn’t want to go to sleep in the car on the drive home, even though it was getting to be two hours past his bedtime. On a school night. I hope he’s doing alright at school today. Once he did fall asleep, though, Tom and I discussed how we both wished we could have ridden the dragons ourselves. I know they weren’t real, but they sure looked like they were, and that’s as close as we’ll ever get to having real dragons around. (Hopefully some mad scientist doesn’t try creating them in a lab; as cool as real dragons sound, we all know what a Really Bad Idea that would be!)
Get 25% Off Tickets to See DreamWorks How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular
I still have that really cool 25% off discount code, valid for select seats on weeknight performances of How to Train Your Dragon Live. Use discount code MOM when ordering your tickets for tonight’s show in Albany or future weeknight shows nationwide. The DreamWorks How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular is coming to Columbus, Ohio; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Tacoma, Washington; Fresno, California; San Jose, California; Sacramento, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Anaheim, California.