How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular Premiere Review, Melbourne

ALL cheered when Toothless the Night Fury left the stage. Yet it was not one of the grand closing applause we used to hear after a show is finished. It was a cheer in a hope to bring the dragons back to life after the third technical difficulty happened during the show.

After the opening night cancellation of the How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular World Premiere on Friday, 2nd of March (read more here), the Saturday’s opening show was greeted with much enthusiasm from both the audience and the crew.

Not less than 7,000 audience have been fighting each other to find a decent parking spot near the Hisense arena, and most were soaked wet due to the rain.

Although the 3pm show was running late, the excitement of seeing life, flying fire-breathing dragon came as soon as it started.

The first one-and-a-half-hour of the show was a total success – the audience was amazed and pleased, and everything was going well.

At 4.30pm, adults and children rushed outside to grab some food and drinks.

However, the 20-minute recess soon became a 60-minute one, and the adults started to feel that something has gone wrong.

After two-and-a-half-year of preparation and hardwork for the show, the casts were clearly disappointed as they struggled to make the story reached its climax. The show resumed at approximately 5.30pm, but in the next 30 minutes, it was halted twice due to technical difficulties, and some families started to head their way home.

As more than half of the audience were restless children aged below ten, parents were now struggling to entertain them. Other adults with no children began to take out their smartphones and do their business. A few were constantly checking their watches.

After three-and-a-half-hour of battle to make the dragons come to life, the supposedly two-hour show has finally come to an end at 6.30pm, with the climax and ending squeezed into an 8-minute fast-forwarded scene.

At this time, nearly half of the audience was gone.

“I sympathise with the director and the team because there are going to be lots of complains. They will be very stressed,” said an audience Jessica Purnama who attended the show with her boyfriend.

Despite the technical glitch, Jessica’s boyfriend Pohan Lukito said that he has seen about 80% of the show, and he was happy.

“The show was good. I don’t have any grudges,” he said.

Complimentary tickets to return to any of the other scheduled Melbourne performances were offered to the audience.

The Life, Flying Fire-Breathing Dragons

Dreamworks has pushed the boundaries, and the dragons are the proofs. Before the technical difficulties happened, the dragons were eating, walking, flying, and breathing fire. The casts have performed new tricks that will soon be adapted by thousands of other shows around the world.

A combination of life performances, digital imaging, sound, and lighting, the show would be total success if all was running smoothly.

The show started with the narrator bringing all the audience back to the era of the Vikings, where flash photography and live recording would anger the dragons, and mobile reception would not be available for at least 1000 years later. All people were seated comfortably in their seats, feeling enthusiastic while seeing the crescent-moon Dreamworks logo put up on the screen.

When the first dragon showed up, all cheered.

Each of the dragons were remarkable. The scales, the size, and the colours were shown in an extensive amount of details. The Night Fury, the Monstrous Nightmare, the Gronckle, The Green Death, and the Deadly Nadder, among others, were present.

Children began to stand against the rails, amazed and excited to see their favourite mythical creatures right in front of their eyes.

And the dragons blinked. They did.

When the dragons left the stage, the audience clapped.

One of the most remarkable scenes was when the Vikings tried to educate the new recruits about the dragons. Utilising a very big screen, paper shape ornaments, and lighting, the crew was able to twist the story with the forgotten story-telling technique.

The first flying scene of Toothless and Hiccup was also spectacular to watch.

As one of the other 7,000 audience to watch the world premiere How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular, the show has surpassed all my expectations. I would love to watch the show during its prime time, but seeing a glance of the promised land was satisfying enough.

It is indeed hard to train your dragon, but at least they are ambitious enough to try.

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photos by Marcella Purnama

How To Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular is an epic arena adventure inspired by the Academy Award® nominated DreamWorks Animation film, How To Train Your Dragon which grossed approximately $500 million at the worldwide box office and was among the best-reviewed movies of 2010. The show is on their way to a five-year-tour around the world, with the near future shows include the dragons going life in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Auckland. For more information about the event, please consult Ticketek website, or the show’s official Facebook page.


17 thoughts on “How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular Premiere Review, Melbourne

  1. Bonsi says:

    I just came back from the Wednesday night show and found the show itself to be good running pretty much to time with hardly any obvious technical difficulties. The dragons and the projections were amazing and one must remember the challenge of running a show with so much complexity and so many different things to manage.

    My only disappointment in the show was in fact the audience, who proved to be a rude and inconsiderate audience. Throughout the entire show there was the non stop sound of rustling chips and kids and people in general just talking. Young kids were restlessly moving around without being told to keep quiet by their parents and people were coming and going from their chairs without trying to keep quiet and duck down to avoid getting in people’s view of the show. The rudest part was that large chunks of the audience started to leave before the curtain call had even finished, and most of the audience stopped clapping mid-way through the cast taking their bows. The audience also left such a mess of left over food and drinks everywhere over the whole arena it was disgusting! I have never in my life been to a concert or performance with such an horrible audience and I was immensely disappointed by it especially for the poor cast and crew who were clearly trying their best to overcome their shaky start to the week.

    I think the main problem was that half the audience were children under 7/8 who’s attention spans probably lasted the first 20 minutes and then began to wander, and their indifferent parents who were clearly only there because their kids nagged them, and who therefore didn’t care about the actual show or other audience members, and only cared about keeping the kids entertained for 3 hours. This is not a wiggles concert, this is no different to a stage production, and should be treated in the same respect. If your child cannot sit through the whole DVD in one sitting, they WILL NOT be able to sit through double that time with this production! Save your money and put the dvd on at home, give them some chips and let them make as much noise as they want!

  2. johnston says:

    Can someone tell me how long does the performance goes for? I have tickets to tonight’s show and can’t find this info anywhere. Hopefully the audience will behave better tonight.

  3. Hi Johnston, it should be approximately 2 hours (with 20 min recess), but often it goes beyond the scheduled time. Hope you will see an enjoyable show tonight!

    Hi Bonsi, I agree that the sound of people opening chips was really, really distracting! However, the Saturday afternoon show was better than yours, I guess. The children were really, really quiet and their eyes were really fixed towards the dragons. Although yes, at recess, every child was restless…. hope you enjoyed the show, though, I really think it was brilliant (and I get to watch it again this Saturday, due to tech diff and complimentary tickets!)

  4. Dave Mason says:

    Yeah I agree. We sat on the side (Premium seats?) and the projection was lost aprticulary when Toothless was flying. It made no sense and was hard to imagine what was happening, also when poeple were walking forward. If we were sitting in front it would have been much better. If it was in a theatre I would have enjoyed those moments more. I believe it should be stated when you buy the tickets, cause paying premium prices for the seats we had – we were had!
    There was also a dragon that was not on stage as per what we read in the program. We went to the last show on Sunday in Melbourne.
    I really do think that Australia is the ‘out of town tryouts’ for the US tour. And that makes me dissappointed that we are only seeing a show that has not yet shaken all it’s ‘bugs’ out.
    There also needs to be more work on the human actors scenes. They seemed slow and filler for the Dragon scenes. The storyline didn’t seem to flow very well either with gaps in content.

  5. Hi Dave, I kind of agree with your statement that Australia is the ‘out of town tryouts’, as Melbourne is their first performance ever so a lot of things that could go wrong, would go wrong… But considering the resources that they have, I think they have done quite a good job. Although yes, I would really love to see the show during its best performance! There are lots of rooms for improvement!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Get a life its based on a KIDS movie so expect kids to be in the audience. If you want to appreciate the arts and sit through curtain calls and nit pick about the stage and how its set up go see phantom of the opera or le miz but don’t go to a stage show that makes alot of its money off merchandising aimed at the 4 to 10 year olds and expect the audience to sit in silence.

  7. Dave Mason says:

    Anonymous you idiot! Have some balls and put your name on your comments before you comment on others. Paying lots of money for something you cannot get the full benefit of is the problem. At least in a theatre seating arrangment you are told of the poor viewing areas. This is what we are trying to say. It seems the promoters do not see it that way and rather take the money!

  8. Lis O'Daly says:

    I agree with you, Dave. We saw this in Sydney and had the worst possible seats (the closest to the backdrop on the side). If I had known in advance, I would not have bought them. I felt like we missed half the show. Complained to Ticketek, but they said that it was nothing to do with them. Complained to Global Creatures and they replied saying that all sides had an adequate view. The problem is that most reviewers would be sitting directly in front of the screen – and so the production gets good reviews.

  9. Sarah of Brissie says:

    Just seen first night in Brisbane. really excellent show with one techy hitch that was over in seconds – would have happily sat through some more hitches for chance to see it again for free!The seats nearest to the side screens were blocked out so no-one had a poor view. I agree about audience manners, there were a lot of kids who treated the show as though it was on tv at home and they talked throughout, mind you, that also applied to a lot of adults.
    Over all, a very good experience as it covered all bases; exciting story and puppets for the young and fantastic animatronics and skilful mix of theatre styles for us grown ups. I would definitely recommend the production

  10. Lauren says:

    Hey Everyone,

    So I am taking my son (2 1/2 years old) to the show here in Washington D.C. in July. He went to the circus recently and enjoyed the entire thing so this will probably be a huge hit with him since he watches the movie on repeat. I mean literally repeat! LOL. I purchased the “Dragon Trainer Enhanced Experience Package” and am wondering if this was really worth the $300 for two tickets. Did anyone else get this package? What were the goodies that came with it?

    Thank you!

  11. Hi Lauren! I actually do not know anything about the package, but the show in general is a very good one :). I really hope you’ll enjoy it! Hopefully someone who knows about the package would reply this thread. :)

  12. Hi Stephanie, I didn’t really sit high up in the arena, but I’m thinking that it’s not really an issue. perhaps you will miss some details, but overall the dragons are big enough to be seen even from the upper seats. This is my own personal opinion though. :) hope you’ll enjoy the show!

  13. Marcella, Thank you so much for your response. We were trying to decide between seats that were center located but WAY UP high (better view of the screen – not so good view of the actors and dragons) or – seats on the side, down close (better view of the dragons and actors – not so great view of the screen). Since our boys are 5 and 3 and have seen the movie many, many (many x10) times we opted for down close to the arena. We rolled the dice and decide they would rather see the “live” dragons and wouldn’t so much care about the screen and the FX it provides. :)

  14. You’re Welcome Stephanie! I hope you enjoy the show, I really think that it was good! And I agree on your decision to see the dragons in details rather than the screen :)

  15. Jess says:

    Does anyone know if i am able to have my son (small 3 years old ) sit on my lab during the show? So i only have to buy a ticket for myself and husband.
    Thank you

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