NEW YORK, N.Y. – Besides trying to translate a cartoon movie into a theatrical production, promoter Michael Cohl had other concerns about bringing “How To Train Your Dragon” to the stage â€” like keeping the audience from being set ablaze.
“When you try to make a dragon with a 40-foot wingspan fly and shoot down fire and not burn the audience and not burn the other dragons in the show so you don’t have to throw one out every night, that’s a challenge,” said Cohl in a phone interview on Wednesday. “But they’ve done it.”
Dreamworks’ “How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular” features live actors and huge dragon figures created by Global Creatures, which was behind the tour “Walking with Dinosaurs.” The “Dragon” show had a test run in Australia and New Zealand, and will make its U.S. debut on June 27 in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. It will tour around the country for the rest of 2012.
Cohl, who most recently produced Broadway’s beleaguered “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” called the production “a beast.”
“It’s really difficult; everyone is just scrambling and working ever so hard and pushing ever so hard in getting ready for its North American debut,” Cohl said. “It’s far and away the most ambitious arena thing we’ve ever done.”
Still, Cohl felt bringing the dragon cartoon characters to life, so to speak, was a natural.
“For years and years, you could do things in movies, and here was such a gap, an enormous gap, between the live show and the movies. But that gap is closing rapidly,” he said. “If you can see it on film or see it live, live is always better, and we’re getting awfully close.”