Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Beauty of Broadway's "War Horse"

I've seen a lot of shows in the Big Apple. I saw Michael Crawford as The Phantom, Sutton Foster as Thoroughly Modern Millie, Jane Fonda in 33 Variations, Edie Falco in This Wide Night, and Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel in Wicked.

I've also been fortunate to perform and share the stage with some Broadway A-listers as well, which is beyond surreal.

The thing I love about theatre is its ability to transport an audience, to create a communal experience: a live experience that becomes emblazoned on the hearts and minds of the people who share it.

Tonight I had the privilege of sharing in Lincoln Center's production of War Horse. It was probably the best thing I have ever seen! Absolutely magical! Everything a Broadway show should be. Larger than life and moving beyond words. At least this audience member was moved!

The artistry was amazing! The horses were brought to life by 3 puppeteers per horse, and they all were exceptional. The puppets and puppeteers were truly "one." The fellow who controlled the head of the horse, for example, his face mirrored the horse's emotions. And all 3 puppeteers breathed and moved as the horse. It was astounding!

As one reviewer said, "They weren't puppets. They were horses!"

I can see why Steven Spielberg is making a film of this play based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo. The story is epic and excellently crafted. Plus it's so cinematic!

As directed by Tom Morris and Marianne Elliott, the story was brought to life onstage with an incredible cast and crew. At times the stage seemed bare, but there was this marvelous backdrop that looked like a torn page (from history, perhaps) and video pieces would play on this backdrop, adding to the depth of perception already at work.

The music was GORGEOUS! Two singers created that old English sound with a touch of Celtic flavor that was rousing to the spirit and mind.  

Adapted by Nick Stafford, the play is about the First World War as told through the eyes of a horse named Joey. Joey starts out free and unfettered but becomes a draft horse and develops a bond with a farm boy named Albert. When Albert's father sells Joey to the British army, Albert goes on a heroic journey to bring his horse home. That may sound sentimental, but it was beautiful and very effective. At one point, one of the soldiers says to Albert, "we're all fighting for something." And indeed, we are!

This production of War Horse is not to be missed! It is truly one of the best pieces on Broadway!

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