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Gronckles, Nadders and Vikings, Oh My! DreamWorks "How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular" Has Them All

Gronckles, Nadders and Vikings, Oh My! DreamWorks "How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular" Has Them All

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How do you train a dragon? Very carefully.

The life-like Nadder in the DreamWorks How to Train Your Dragon Live
Spectacular. Photo By Nancy Stadler

Especially when you have to make sure that twenty-three of the beasts need to breathe fire, roar, flap their wings, blow smoke rings, wag their tail, laugh, grunt, pass gas, blink and -- oh yeah -- actually walk at precisely the right moment. Which is exactly what the cast and crew / dragon tamers of the DreamWorks "How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular" have to do every show night.

Hiccup, Astrid, Gobber and Stoick along with a village of vikings are currently touring North America with the dragons we came to love in the DreamWorks animated feature "How to Train Your Dragon": Toothless (a Night Fury) ...

Hiccup captures Toothless by shooting him with a net. Photo by Nancy Stadler

... Gronckles, a Nadder and the Monstrous Nightmare

It takes hundreds of people to make sure every dragon featured in this brand-new arena show looks its best  ...

Photo by Nancy Stadler

... is blowing just the right amount of smoke...

The Gronckle lets off "steam," which is actually harmless smoke and compressed air.
Photo by Nancy Stadler

... not to mention having fresh breath & working innards.

This Red Death dragon is inflated with air before appearing on stage. Photo by Nancy Stadler

Behind - or should I say underneath - every good fire-breathing dragon is a very brave driver. Although they are covered during the show they are in constant contact with the operations crew throughout the performance.

Wouldn't it be fun to take a Nadder out for a spin? Photo by Nancy Stadler

The twenty-six member cast includes 21 actors playing 19 different roles (the very physical roles of Hiccup and Astrid are each played by two actors that alternate performances) ...

Rarmian Newton as Hiccup, Gemma Nguyen as Astrid
Photo by Nancy Stadler

... and five Voodoo puppeteers.

The dragon puppeteers control each dragon's movement with a Voodoo stick (L),
the sound comes from keyboards (R).  Photo by Nancy Stadler

There be flying dragons as well ...

The flying dragons are smaller in size than the ones which appear on the floor of the arena
to enhance the illusion that they are in the distance. Photo by Nancy Stadler

... that ride on a track above the arena stage.

The figure-eight flying track is basically an upside-down train track that allows the dragons to enter
the arena from backstage, fly over the set and return backstage. Photo by Nancy Stadler

The audience is immersed in the world of Vikings and dragons on the Isle of Berk through the use of colorful and highly detailed digital projections on massive screens. The technologies are so seamlessly brought together it's easy to believe that dragons really do exist.

Photo by Flo Doyle

If you fell in love with Night Furys and gas-producing Gronckles in DreamWorks' animated feature "How to Train Your Dragon," you'll love this show. Which opens tonight at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. for four days of performances before the tour then continues on to Chicago's United Center.

DreamWorks "How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular" will be touring North America now through February 3rd. To see if this ambitious arena show is coming to a town near you, please click on this link. And who knows. You might even have the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with your favorite "How to Train Your Dragon" character as part of a  VIP experience. If you do, please take my advice: Don't stand behind the Gronckle. You never know what he might expel.

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