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Seven movies later, we're still hellbent on bringing dinosaurs to life: the Jurassic World Live Tour premiers in Vancouver May 19-21 and 27-29.
“I think dinosaurs are such a universal thing. Everyone loves dinosaurs,” Madison Embrey tells me over the phone, a day before she’s set to fly out to Vancouver for the Canadian premiere of the Jurassic World Live Tour.
It can’t be denied. Humankind’s love for dinosaurs feels eternal (unlike the dinos themselves—extinct, but not forgotten). Like most millennials, I first watched Jurassic Park as a kid—I remember hiding behind my father’s shoulders and peeking through the cracks my little fingers made. Lately, it’s my 10-year-old nephew who has the dinosaur bug; I recently gifted an archaeology kit with miniature dinosaurs (I’ll happily accept the Best Aunt Ever award, thank you).
He would love to see Jurassic World Live Tour (if only we were on the same continent). Because in this show, the dinosaurs come to life before your eyes. You’d think that after seven movies, we might have learned to let sleeping—er, dead—dinos lie. Well, we haven’t.
Ok, fine: the dinosaurs aren’t technically alive, but it’s something you’ll forget when you’re deep into the storyline. That’s what Embrey, who plays the lead role of Dr. Kate Walker, says is her favourite part of bringing the Jurassic World Live Tour to audiences.
“Audiences come into the arena expecting to see their favourite dinosaurs, and they leave having experienced this heartfelt storyline,” she explains.
The story takes place within the canon of the Jurassic World franchise, after the fall of Jurassic World but before the events of Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom. “If you love the film, then there is just so much familiarity and you’re going to be so satisfied,” says Embrey. “But if you just happen to love dinosaurs, you’re looking to create family memories, and you don’t necessarily know the Jurassic World franchise super well—it’s a brand new storyline with new characters so you won’t feel left out or left behind.”
In Jurassic World Live Tour, on May 19 through 28 at the Pacific Coliseum, Embrey steps into the shoes of a brilliant scientist who takes the lead in a mission to expose a corrupt scheme and rescue a dinosaur. In this role, she draws on her years of experience as a dancer and performer, as well as her fond memories of growing up in Michigan, spending countless hours outdoors, playing in the dirt and in the sandbox.
“The thing I love about Dr. Kate is she’s such a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional woman,” Embrey says..
She describes Walker as an intuitive and nurturing leader who possesses both intelligence and the ability to guide her team through dangerous situations. Factor in that mixed martial arts background and we’d want to be on her team too.
The group ventures through a transformed Pacific Coliseum into the lush jungles of Isla Nubar, with 24 life-sized dinosaurs operated by animatronics and performers. But it’s the way Embrey describes the immersive experience that makes a grown adult like me suddenly want to be part of it.
“This isn’t a show where you have to sit and be quiet and have your hands on your lap and just politely applaud. We really encourage people yelling and cheering and screaming for the dinosaurs and booing the bad guys. It’s so fun.”
Even Embrey finds herself giggling whenever she has to skirt around a stegosaurus’ tail while sharing space with dinosaurs backstage.
“A lot of times I think parents come being like, ‘Oh, this is gonna be so great for my kids’ and then they’re even more invested than their children are. They can’t believe the technological aspects of the show,” she explains.
Embrey says the franchise is also a popular idea for a date night. Her favourite is when people show up in matching outfits, from groups of friends to grandparents enjoying the show on their own.
“I think when you come as an adult, you are encouraged to bring your childlike spirit with you and you are just bound to have a great time,” she says.
As I’m going through my interview notes, fragments of my childhood memories pop up—blankets tied to dining chairs made into make-believe forts, the glow of flashlights guiding us as my father playfully portrayed a rampaging T-rex while my sister and I darted around, pretending to hide behind the imaginary foliage, shrieking and squealing.
“I truly do believe this is one of those things that children look back on and have those core memories,” Embrey says. In the end, our chat also unearthed my own “fossil” memory.
There might be a few tears and some heartfelt surprise, Embrey says, but overall there’s that special feeling of seeing the audience’s excitement for dinosaurs, and seeing the impact of a captivating story that stays with them long after the show ends.
After all, she’s right. Dinosaurs are universal.