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Thursday, September 17, 2009


They Walk Among Us: Dinosaurs Roam the Verizon Center

Written by Washington Post Express contributor Alfredo Flores

HIDDEN IN THE Verizon Center stands will be a master puppeteer inside a miniature version of a large-scale dinosaur, moving his arms and head in dino-like fashion. On the arena floor, a gigantic robotic lifelike version of the real thing will be making the same motions as his master. This is aptly called the "voodoo rig," one of the many techniques used in the Verizon Center return of the large-scale production of "Walking With Dinosaurs — the Arena Spectacular." In charge of creating the pre-historic creatures is self-proclaimed "dinosaur nerd" Sonny Tilders, and few are more qualified. He's considered one of film and TV's top animatronics engineers from his work on "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" and "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Like other arena stars, the 17 massive creatures who star in the show are caravanned around in 25 trucks with a road crew of 60. Its largest passenger (after she's assembled) is the Brachiosaurus, 36 feet tall by 56 feet long. The mighty T. rex is the star attraction, showing amazing agility for its size and startling audiences with its fierce roar that echoes throughout the arena. Those walking just outside the Verizon Center need not be frightened; it's just your everyday dinosaur letting his presence be known. » Verizon Center, 601 F St. NW; through Sun., Sept. 20; $29.50-$65; 202-628-3200. (Gallery Place-Chinatown)

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