Keep your eye on the big mammals

San Diego Union-Tribune - June 15, 2006

Most celebrities request some favorite treat or odd trinket in their dressing rooms when they perform somewhere. It's doubtful any of them would request 140 to 240 pounds of fish for the day, but you just might find that in Shamu's contract now that he's starring in a new show at SeaWorld.

Called “Believe — the New Shamu Show,” the show takes magic, creativity and state-of-the-art equipment to make a show about believing in your dreams.

“The show is about that moment when we all formulated the dream to be something in our lives, whatever that may have been. To follow a path and dream about it,” said Rick Schuiteman, the show's producer. “In the show you see a boy whose dream is to be a trainer with killer whales, but it could be anything. If you believe and put your heart and mind to it, you can do it.”

The details and the technology of the show certainly match the optimism of Schuiteman.

Original music was composed by Christopher Ward, and recorded in Prague by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. “We wanted to take the Shamu show to a whole new level, so we needed something big for the space and emotions of the show. Normally the music isn't a piece that runs straight through, and the trainers could control it so the animals would hit musical moments,” Schuiteman said.

The stainless-steel stage houses four, 20-by-10 foot video screens that can be put together to make a panoramic center-stage video screen. The cameras that feed the images to the screens are located above the water and under the water, something never before done at SeaWorld.

There is still a splash section for those looking for a drenching, but audiences are warned to be on their toes — Shamu could splash the fans at any time during the show. There are still opportunities when children get to feed Shamu a fish — or 10 — and touch a pectoral flipper.

Only kids get to go up and feed a whale, but anyone can watch these gentle giants perform. The show will highlight all 100 behaviors the whales can perform, 52 of which have never been seen before in any SeaWorld show.

Shows are performed between two and six times a day, depending on how the animals are doing, weather and attendance.

SeaWorld's 'Believe' takes the Shamu show 'to a whole new level'