Crews create dinosaur stage at Coast Coliseum

By Meggan Gray – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - An army of 18-wheelers sits outside the Coast Coliseum in Biloxi Thursday morning.  What's inside is gigantic. It's everything needed to recreate a prehistoric masterpiece - a time when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

"In comparison to the biggest show you've probably ever had here, they've had ten or eleven semi trucks, and we have 25 so it's dinosaur sized," says Nellie Beavers of Walking with Dinosaurs.  

Eventually, 17 life-size dinosaurs will emerge from the trucks.  But before that happens, the coliseum arena has to be transformed into the land before time.

"We have a crew of 65 company members who travel with the show, as well as over a hundred local crew members who are loading the show in," explains Beavers.  "It takes over 18 hours to put the show in, and it's an overnight process."

The grueling set up involves unloading heavy equipment and sets, even laying down an entirely new floor.

"We carry our own floor. There's over 500 magnetic tiles that have been laid, and it's magnetic so that the dinosaur has a smooth surface. We've been rigging since yesterday actually. We came in early to do the rigging.  We have over 110 points of rigging which is twice of any normal rock and roll show, so it's enormous."

Eventually, hundreds of lights will hang high above the arena floor to enhance the theatrical experience of Walking with Dinosaurs.

"Our lighting guys will be here until the wee hours of the morning putting the lighting up. We have over 300 lights in our grid which creates a beautiful package once everything is focused and the show begins. It really transports you back in time," says Beavers. "We start 200 million years ago, so we have a lot to cover a lot of time to cover and our lighting does that beautifully."

It's 18 hours of intense set up, all for an unforgettable show that lasts 90 minutes.

Walking with Dinosaurs opens at the Coast Coliseum in Biloxi Friday, at 7:30 p.m.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.