Puppet horses operated by a three man team to create the main character of a Tony Award winning Broadway Play, who could imagine?
Just ask the 1972 audience members at the Orpheum Theater last Tuesday night when War Horse opened.
War Horse is a stage production about a thoroughbred horse. Joey, who eventually was part of the cavalry unit for the British forces in France during World War I and the special relationship he had with his teenaged owner, Albert Narracott.
The story takes you back to 1914 when the war began in a small English village where people are bidding on a young horse, a thoroughbred, hunter, and the lead character in this play.
War Horse far exceeded my expectations. I have never seen sound or lighting as such an integral and creative part of any stage production while also being magical in this realistic story. The set itself is simple but outstanding with lighting and film extending the actual stage along with sound throughout the theater. The costumes were true to the time period and the use of music truly complemented the storyline.
The three puppeteers Danny Yoreges, Adam Cunningham, and Dayna Tietzen were outstanding in creating Joey, the lead horse with an obstinate personality and love for Albert. For all three to move and act as a single unit in the body of a finicky horse is phenomenal not to mention the strength and balance needed to handle the puppet when someone is riding the horse. It is amazing to visually see each horse as a puppet but at the same time, you view Joey as a real horse. You could even see Joey as a young foal breathing. The puppeteers are alternated from show to show due to the physical demands of this part.
War Horse focuses on many of the horrors of WWI such as the mustard gas and tear gas as well as the change in how a war is fought with the common usage of machine guns and the introduction of tanks in battle. Because of this, it is recommended that the audience members be at least nine-years-old. You need to see the unique way a handling a tank on stage with horses and troops.
As Albert Narracott, Michael Wyatt Cox was excellent. I loved the singing of John Milosich along with the accordion accompaniment whose brilliant tenor voice beautifully rang through the show reminiscent of a bard.
Also, this show is adult because of its length. The first part lasted about 75 minutes with a little over an hour after the intermission.
Performances will continue at the Orpheum Theater in Omaha through April 13th with shows on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Tickets prices begin at $ 35 through TicketOmaha.com or calling (402) 345-0606, or at the Holland Performing Arts Center Box Office located at 1200 Douglas Street in Omaha.
For a different show, that educates, entertains, enlightens, and unquestionably memorable, go see War Horse.