Originally Published in The Buffalo News
October 16, 2019
By Toni Ruberto
Kevin Campbell was 5 years old when he was introduced to the original “Jurassic Park” movie. Like all kids crazy about dinosaurs, he watched in awe as they came to life before him.
Fast forward about 17 years to the recent day when Campbell, now a member of the touring production of “Jurassic World Live Tour” first came face-to-face with a life-sized Tyrannosaurus rex from the show, which will be at KeyBank Center from Oct. 17 to 20.
“When we first saw Rexie breathe, she made my jaw drop. We had seen her being built, but never saw her move,” Campbell said in a phone conversation from a tour stop in Albany. “It was the 5-year-old child in me having quite the scare to be honest. This is the T-rex I remember from watching the movie with my family and now it has come to life right before me.”
It doesn’t matter that Rexie – as fans affectionately call her – is animatronic, meaning it is animated with the use of robotics. By any measure, she is fierce, standing 42-feet long and 17-feet high. It takes two shipping containers to move her from venue to venue and multiple people working from a control booth to make her move during performances.
“She’s a big one,” said Campbell, a native of Ontario, Calif. “When you hear that iconic T-Rex roar, you can feel it in your chest as she stomps around the stage. I can’t imagine being a 5-year-old watching this thing enter the arena. It has to be spectacular.”
“Jurassic World Live Tour” stars 21 dinosaurs and seven species: Pteranondon, Indominus Rex, triceratops, Tyrannosaurus rex, stegosaurus, velociraptor and the troodon, a species new to the “Jurassic” franchise. And, yes, fan favorite Blue is among the raptors in the live show. (“We had to have Blue,” Campbell said.) Kids may especially be drawn to a baby stegosaurus, Olive, who made an appearance at Canalside recently.
The dinosaurs come to life two ways: using animatronics as with the giant T-rex, and by performer-operators called “dinoteers” who wear 100 pounds or more of costume as they work “smaller” dinosaurs like the raptors.
The size of the dinosaurs – as with everything about the live show – relates to how they were portrayed in the movies. “Blue is the size she was in the films; T-rex is the size that she was the films. We’re about making sure we’re matching up with the franchise properly,” Campbell said. The dinosaurs were created using the CGI models from the “Jurassic” movies and are made with life-like skin to make their movements appear realistic.
Set between the events of the movies “Jurassic World” (2015) and its sequel “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” (2018), the stage show starts after the escape of the terrifying Indominus rex and follows the characters on their journey back to Isla Nublar, the remote island first seen in the original 1993 film.
New characters include the “Fab Five” – scientists Dr. Walker and Dr. Martin; interns Alison and Chad; and a mercenary turned-good-guy named Oscar. Campbell plays Brock, the leader of a band of mercenaries. The role of the villain is something he’s not only used to (his previous roles included Darth Maul at Disneyland), it’s something he enjoys.
“Every hero needs a great villain and I have a lot of fun that way. I’ve played villains for most of the shows I’ve been in, so I think I’m being typecast,” he laughed.
Campbell also has one of the primary stunt roles. “I do a lot of the fighting and hitting the ground and making the hero characters really look awesome,” he said.
As to his favorite dinosaur in the show? It’s not what you might expect. “It’s the triceratops,” Campbell said. “Growing up it was a favorite of mine. I know T-Rex is iconic from the movie. But the triceratops moves very lifelike and it’s lot of fun to watch her on the stage floor.”
Here are the dinosaurs you will see in the show.
Pteranondon: This aggressive winged creature clearly forgot its favorite food was fish in the movies.
Indominus Rex: A genetically engineered hybrid from Hammond Creation Lab, it’s the most fearsome killing machine in the “Jurassic” films and has the terrifying ability to camouflage itself.
Triceratops: Weighing 10 tons, this plant eater is the largest of the horned dinosaurs. Its most famous scene in the films may still be the comedic big “sneeze” in “Jurassic Park.”
Troodon: New to the “Jurassic” series, this dino is considered one of the most intelligent, hence her name Jeanie – short for genius.
Tyrannosaurus rex: The tyrant lizard was the most feared in the “Jurassic” universe, until the creation of Indominus Rex. Their battle in “Jurassic World” remains a highlight.
Stegosaurus: Another gentle giant, this herbivore has 17 plates across its back for protection. The “baby” stegosaurus stands 6 feet tall and weighs 75 pounds.
Velociraptor: Small but deadly, the raptors chasing the children through the kitchen in “Jurassic Park” rates among the scariest scenes in the franchise. They return, along with the popular Blue who was an unlikely hero of sorts in “Jurassic World.”
Oct. 17 to 20 in KeyBank Center. Tickets are $24.50 to $134.50 (box office, tickets.com or call 888-223-6000). Shows are at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 and 18; 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. Oct. 19; and noon and 4 p.m. Oct. 20