OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Dinosaurs rule this week at Chicago Broadway Playhouse

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2014-03-25T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Dinosaurs rule this week at Chicago Broadway PlayhouseBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Keeping balance isn't so easy when walking in the steps of an intimidating, lumbering-along dinosaur like Triceratops.

Puppeteer Anthony Orefice, a native of Long Island, N.Y. and graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with a degree in psychology, has become an expert at bringing dinosaurs like Triceratops, and so many others, to life for a new touring family stage show called "Erth's Dinosaur Zoo Live."

The parade of prehistoric giants of the past, mixed with the magic of puppetry, are in Chicago this week for a string of shows starting today through Sunday at Broadway Playhouse, 175 E. Chestnut at Water Tower Place.

"One of my first jobs right out of college was wearing a large mascot costume as Penny the Bowling Pin for Bowlmor Lanes in Times Square," said Orefice, who said he has integrated his knowledge of psychology and puppetry with his childhood dinosaur fixation.

Broadway In Chicago and Erth Visual & Physical, Inc., in association with Red Tail Entertainment, ArKtype and East Bank Entertainment are backing this new tour created in Australia and billed as " an experiential theatre production which takes audiences on a prehistoric journey into a new dimension where they get to meet a menagerie of insects, mammals and dinosaurs that once roamed the planet millions of years ago."

It includes a pre-show and post-show, in addition to the one-hour stage experience featuring a large-scale cast of dinosaur puppets brought to life by sophisticated design and theatrical presentation and puppet mastery. These life-like dinosaur recreations are intended to connect children to paleontology in a fun and informative setting starring 16 dinosaurs on stage.

Directed by Scott Wright, the dinosaurs and other creature puppets, as well as the flora and fauna that make up the set are designed by Steve Howarth, a founding and full-time member of Erth.

The show is lead on stage by host Aimee Louisanne and Kelley Selznick serves as a dinosaur wrangler and puppeteer, while Hallie Goodman joins Orefice serving as both dinosaur wranglers and as the puppeteers who also operate the larger puppets.

"Some of the dinosaurs span 30 feet long, which are always a favorite of the audience, especially the long neck dinosaurs," Orefice said.

"Some of the puppets weigh as much as 20 pounds, so these dinosaurs are a lot to handle."

Performances are 7 p.m. today, Wednesday and Thursday and 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday and 10:30 a.m. and 1 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 and 4:30 p.m Sunday.

Tickets range from $28-$38 with a select number of VIP meet & greet tickets available for many performances. FYI: (800) 775-2000 or BroadwayInChicago.com or DinosaurZooLive.us.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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