The first movie Enrique Escajeda ever saw was “Jurassic Park.”
“I was around 10 years old and to this day, it’s my favorite” he says. “And it sparked something. I worked at a natural history museum later.”
And now, Escajeda is part of the cast of the “Jurassic World: Live Tour,” which is coming to the Giant Center for seven performances, from Nov. 22 - 24.
More specifically, he is the dinosaur Jeannie, a Troodon, a smaller but highly intelligent dinosaur.
“Our dinosaurs are not CGI, they are large animatronics and puppets,” he says. “Jeannie is half animatronics and half puppet. I am controlling her neck with pulleys, and I have hand breaks to open her mouth. I can get her eyes to blink. That’s what brings her to life.”
Escajeda compares the Troodon dinosaur to a horse.
“They were meat eaters and they are really strong. When they get aggressive, they can be dangerous. But Jeannie is the ambassador of nice.”
All of the dinosaurs in “Jurassic World: Live” are very lifelike and active. They have a story to tell.
“The story is set (in Isla Nublar) between the movies ‘Jurassic World’ and ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,’ ” Escajeda says. The Indominus rex has just escaped and brings chaos to the park.
Dr. Kate Walker, inventor of the Dino Decoder, which enables scientists to understand dinosaur emotions, is working with Jeannie. Because she is so intelligent — some believe Troodons are the smartest dinosaurs that ever lived — she is highly curious and emotive.
But Jeannie is being used in a corrupt plan to weaponize dinosaurs in a desert facility located in South America. The scientists must save her.
“A great part of the entire thing is the storytelling,” Escajeda says. “Kids can latch on to any of the dinosaurs because there is an empathetic point of view.”
The show features dinosaurs in their actual size and loud grumbles and roars. It takes two people to operate the massive T. rex and Triceratops.
“We have a screen projector with two trolley systems that show the trees moving back and forth and the jungle of the Jurassic world and the desert,”Escajeda says.
Moving “Jurassic World Live” takes more than half a dozen trucks.
The Giant Center will feature special “VIP” seating on the floor. Audience members will be sitting in a kind of thrust stage.
“The dinosaurs will be close and sometimes interact with (audience members),” Escajeda says. “No matter what, when a full size T. rex steps in front of you, you’ll be freaking out. But we haven’t had any negative reactions. I think we have a nice balance going back and forth with Jeannie and the aggressive ones. We are not trying to scare kids out of their wits.”