DinoRock Productions Inc. celebrates their 15th guest appearance at The Puppet Company with Dinosaur Desperados, a fun-filled show where the old west meets the old world. “Dino wranglers” Michele Valeri, Ingrid Crepeau, and Steve Little use songs, stories, and creative puppetry to introduce the young audience (and their parents!) to a variety of lesser-known dinosaur species.
The set is the hotel lobby of the “Dew Drop Inn” in the town of Fossil Junction. Its style is that of an old western saloon, complete with swinging doors, wooden barrels, and wagon wheels. However, the intimidating factor usually alluded by such an environment is replaced with playfulness– the bar is, in fact, an overflowing salad bar, and said of the black-and-white “Wanted” posters that line the walls; “we put those up because we want them to come back.”
It’s with this good-natured welcome that Doc (Michele Valeri) and Curly (Steve Little) welcome the audience to the Dew Drop Inn. They are told that a myriad of dinosaur “desperados” from all over the world come through Fossil Junction, and stop by the Dew Drop Inn during their travels. And they sure do! The dinosaurs are cleverly-crafted puppets manipulated by Ingrid Crepeau, and with each visit, Doc and Curly strum their guitars and sing a song about their visitor while giving a few facts about the species, including a song about “Sarah from the Sahara” and the herbivore “Bonehead.” I especially enjoyed a couple of birds of prey rod puppets– twins named “Mike” and “Ike,” who sang about their lives while swooping into the audience for some fun (one of them tapped my notepad with his beak and asked loudly, “what is it you’re writing?”)
However, the fun visits don’t last long before an ominous letter arrives at the lobby– Mama T-Rex has lost her baby Wuzzy, and if he is not found, she will have to venture into Fossil Junction herself to find him…and no one wants a T-Rex stomping through town! Doc and Curly must enlist the help of their dinosaur friends and find Wuzzy before his impatient and worried mother shows up and flattens the town!
There are a lot of great dinosaur puppets in this show– an Elvis-inspired frozen crested lizard amongst them– but the most memorable by far is Wuzzy himself, a fuzzy, cuddly little marionette that you just want to run onstage and squish. Crepeau does a great job voicing Wuzzy, who is happy to stay just where he is and has no intention of leaving Fossil Junction, declaring himself a “desperado” despite the fact that he will grow to be the most well-known dinosaur species of all time. Can Doc and her team convince Wuzzy to go back home to his mother?
It turns out, Doc and her team need help from the audience in order to send Wuzzy back home. The show was interactive from the start, but the part that I enjoyed the most was when they brought children onstage and encouraged them to reason with Wuzzy. This experiment got mixed (and hilarious) results– while most of the children told Wuzzy that his mother missed him, at my show a sassy little girl dared to tell him that if he didn’t go back home, she would “throw him in the garbage!” It was tough for the dino-wranglers to keep a straight face after that one!
DinoRock Productions Inc.’s production of Dinosaur Desperados was a lot of fun. Highly interactive, with friendly hosts, funny songs, and impressive puppets, I would definitely recommend taking in a showing– there’s only about a week left, so hurry before this show goes extinct!
Running Time: 50 minutes, without an intermission.