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How Jurassic Live musical adventure went from Tesco inspiration to monster of a show

The dinosaur musical adventure has been delighting and enrapturing passionate dino fans for three years now and is set to tour the USA later this year.

Jurassic Live the musical adventure with a ranger and dinosaur puppet on stage.
Jurassic Live captivated audiences at P&J Live through the weekend. Image: Sophie Foulkes

Three years ago, writer and director of the musical adventure Jurassic Live Samuel Foulkes knew nothing about dinosaurs.

However, after years of squeezing massive dinosaur puppets into UK theatres and listening to passionate waist-height experts, he now feels like a self-studied palaeontologist.

Jurassic Live has enjoyed massive success growing from a small show during Covid to performing for audiences at London’s prestigious Adelphi Theatre.

The show is stomping into Aberdeen’s P&J Live this week for a second time after a roaring success last year.

Jurassic Live musical adventure with dinosaurs coming to P&J Live in Aberdeen
The production is heading to tour the USA later this year. Image: Sophie Foulkes.

In November the cast and their dinosaur friends will even be flying over to the States to bring the musical to new shores.

And it all began with a good old Tesco shopping trip.

Every little idea helps

A former welder and then events organiser with a charity, Sam moved into creating affordable festivals with his own business in north Wales in and around his home town Wrexham.

Once Covid hit, he had to think about diversifying and started looking at other ideas.

Thankfully inspiration hit during the weekly shop.

Samuel Foulkes director and writer of Jurassic Live
Samuel Foulkes is the director and writer of Jurassic Live. Image: Sophie Foulkes.

Sam said: “I went to Tesco one day shopping and all the children’s clothes were dinosaur theme.

“And I thought ‘you know what, we have got to do a dinosaur-themed event, and do it on a smaller scale, socially distanced.’ So we did.”

Three months later, the first test events were sold out. Originally hiring some dinosaurs, as the show’s popularity grew, they had their own specially designed ones brought over from China, hired a cast and went on tour.

He added: “And it’s just been a huge success ever since and it’s grown bigger and better.”

Something for everyone

It is a dinosaur extravaganza like no other in the UK.

Filled with singing and dancing – including belty numbers from well-loved artists like Queen – each year the show keeps on evolving to keep things fresh.

This and of course the special effects flying over the audience and giant animatronic puppets adding the wow factor ensure audiences and kids keep coming back.

A member of the cast stroking a dinosaur through a window during Jurassic Live.
Director Sam Foulkes said they like to involve the audience in the show as much as possible. Image: Sophie Foulkes.

Sam said: “The reviews speak for themselves and the kids love it. It’s interactive.

“We’re almost a pantomime without being a panto. And I think that works really well, because kids don’t want to sit there looking at a show. They want to be involved.

“It’s a dinosaur adventure. It’s a very fun show and there’s something for everyone. We tried to make something for everyone of all ages.

“There’s so much stress everyday with the show but when you sit in the back of the theatre, you get to see something you’ve created.

“And everyone’s laughing or crying at different parts or cheering with the badies and the goodies.

“Hearing the reactions live I don’t think anything can beat that.”

Jurassic Live is coming to P&J Live in Aberdeen with massive dinosaur puppets.
The dinosaur puppets can be difficult to move on and off stage. Image: Sophie Foulkes

Making sure puppeteers do not fall off stage

The most popular members of the 25 person team with the kids are of course the very large dinosaurs.

The prehistoric beasts – including a T-Rex and pterodactyl – are controlled by hidden puppeteers.

First-time puppeteer Henry Jenkinson has been with the show since it first began.

He said: “I saw this being advertised and thought I’ll give it a go and see what it’s like. I didn’t expect to be here this long.

“It just came naturally really, you just get used to it. You become the dinosaur.”

He did however admit it takes a lot of focus and core body strength to operate his rather “cheeky” dinosaur.

Sam added: “The puppeteers are completely encased inside the dinosaurs, they can’t really see outside.

“So we have to direct them with radios. That’s quite challenging to make sure they don’t walk off the edge of the stage. Because that would be a sight I’m sure.”

Ranger with dinosaur on stage for Jurassic Live.
Even the team lose themselves in the world of Jurassic Live. Image: P&J Live.

The dinosaurs are a challenging but loveable bunch

While getting the massive puppets – some eight metres long and four metres high – into venues and “shuffling” them behind stage can be prove “extremely challenging”, Sam said even the cast forget they are not real.

He said: “We love each individual dinosaur and end up talking to the puppet rather than the actor on the radios.

“You kind of lose yourself in the world of dinosaurs which is obviously great. If we can do that on stage as the crew then it must be even better for the audience.”

The team are excited to return to Aberdeen and to P&J Live on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 February for a second time.

Sam added: “The P&J Live is an iconic venue now, how many famous artists have performed there?

“We get to follow in the footsteps of these people, perform in the same places and share their dressing rooms. It’s just amazing. You know, who else gets to do this?”

For more information and tickets for Jurassic Live at P&J Live on Saturday 10 February and Sunday 11 February visit