Bar-claws Center! Life-size dinosaur robots roar into Brooklyn

Bar-claws Center! Life-size dinosaur robots roar into Brooklyn
Photo by David Scheinmann

Hold on to your butts!

A pack of 20 life-size, animatronic dinosaurs will rampage through the Barclays Center starting July 16 as part of “Walking With Dinosaurs — The Arena Spectacular,” a live-action take on the eponymous British Broadcasting Corporation series.

Audiences can gaze on the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex, the gentle Brachiosaurus, and the fearsome Utahraptor — as well as a number of other species — as they parade through the arena in the 90-minute look into the lives of these long-dead lizards. And because the prehistoric creatures range from a few feet to a dozen yards tall, there isn’t a bad seat in the house, an organizer said.

“Really anywhere you are you have a chance to be eye-to-eye with a dinosaur,” said spokeswoman Terey Summers, who said some of the robo-reptiles stand nearly three stories tall.

The show promises to be a mix of spectacle and education. A paleontologist emcee takes the audience through three periods — the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous — to show how the once-kings-of-the-earth lived and interacted, Summers said.

The million-dollar monsters are a feat of engineering and puppeteering, and many of the biggest beasts require three puppeteers to control, Summers said. The dino wranglers wear gadgets on their wrists called “voodoo controls” that allow them to dictate the beasts’ movements with a wave of their hand, she said.

“It’s like ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ” she said.

Smaller predatory dinosaurs are actually played by hyper-athletic actors in 100-pound suits, said Matt Olver, who leads a team of six suited puppeteers.

The show has been roaring through towns worldwide for years, but hasn’t toured the U.S. since 2007, and Summers said dino designers have updated their replica reptiles to jibe with the latest scientific findings. The once-leathery lizards have taken on a more avian appearance after scientists found evidence dinosaurs may have had feathers, Summers said.

The dinos’ looks aren’t the only thing that has evolved — the actors that inhabit the suits have changed their mannerisms to match the latest science, explained Olver.

“Every tour the paleontologists tell us something new,” he said. “Before it was more like killer reptiles in a wolf pack — then they became more predatorial-bird-like.”

“Walking With Dinosaurs — The Arena Spectacular” at the Barclays Center [620 Atlantic Ave. at Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights, www.dinosaurlive.com, (917) 618–6100]. July 16–20. Tickets start at $38.20.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.