Imagine having the chance to see a dinosaur in real life. A triceratops, let’s say. Six feet tall and 14 feet long with scaly skin and huge, blinking brown eyes looking right at you. Exactly as it would have looked millions of years ago, except that it’s a 100-pound puppet, and there’s a man inside.
Miron Gusso is the lead puppeteer for “Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live.” This November, he’s coming to Cache Valley with the show, which brings dinosaurs to life through puppetry. He and the other performers take turns operating different styles of puppets, from traditional handheld puppets to backpack puppets. This gives them a chance to rest from the physical demands of operating the larger puppets.
“The backpack puppets way anywhere from 90 to 105 pounds,” he said. “What it is essentially is a harness. It’s built off of a hiking backpack, so you’re basically wearing this frame, and the neck and the head are balanced by bungee cords.”
The puppets are all handmade. Their designs were created with help from paleontologists to represent how we think dinosaurs really would have looked and moved. Gusso said the show gives kids the chance to interact with these realistic puppets.
“We put children in these situations to overcome either their fear, or see their nurturing element,” he said, “and when you see a child respond that way, improvised, and to do that through the art form of puppetry — and not a real animal — is quite a sensational stunt that I think this show really succeeds in.”
“Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live” will be at the Ellen Eccles Theatre in Logan on Nov. 6.