BWW Review: WAR HORSE Takes Memphis Orpheum by Storm
The National Theatre of Great Britain's epic WAR HORSE opened at The Memphis Orpheum on March 25th. The story is based on Michael Morpurgo's 1982 novel of the same name. The play premiered in London in 2007, opened on Broadway in 2011, and embarked on a National Tour in 2012. It is also the inspiration for Steven Spielberg's feature film.
This epic tale begins in 1912, in small village of Devin, England when a boy named Albert (Michael Wyatt Cox) acquires a foal and names him Joey. When WWI breaks out, Joey is sold to the military. He is caught in enemy crossfire and ends up serving both sides of the war before landing in no man's land. When Albert is old enough to enlist, he embarks on a treacherous mission to find his horse and bring him home.
This straightforward story is told through stellar performances, striking visual and sound design and some of the most ingenious stagecraft of our time.
Thanks to The Handspring Puppet Company, Joey and his life-size equine cohorts grace the stage with spellbinding realism. I grew up around horses and can say that the steeds in this show behave realistically, down to the ear movements, breathing, vocalizations, and gaits. Thanks, not only to Handspring's groundbreaking design, engineering and construction, but also to impeccable performances of the actor/dancer/puppeteers who inhabit them. Three highly accomplished performance artists working in unison bring each horse to life, and as with real animals, each horse has its own temperament and personality.
Because this feat must be seen to be believed, (This production rolled into town with a small convoy of trucks and a cast and crew of 55 of theatre's best performers, artists, technicians and support staff.), Memphis Orpheum President and CEO, Pat Halloran invited us in to watch a demonstration by James Duncan, Jon Hoche, Brian Burns and Jessica Krueger of the National Tour. After that, we followed Joey outside where he met Memphis Police Department horses, Twister, Jude and Thumper, and their riders Officer Melissa Haley, Officer Robert Hence and Officer Steve Jones.
But there's more to the story than those amazing horses. At the heart, it's a memorable tale about love,hope and courage. Through its poignant depiction of war, it is also an anthem for peace. We're lucky to have a spellbinding production of this Tony Award winning show in our city. Try not to miss this one!
WAR HORSE runs from March 25 - 30th at The Orpheum Theatre, 203 S. Main Street, Memphis TN 38
BOX OFFICE: 901.525.3000
Tickets are on sale now and available for purchase online at the official Orpheum Theatre website, www.orpheum-memphis.com, The Orpheum Box Office, the ticket counter at The Booksellers at Laurelwood, and all Ticketmaster centers (901.743.ARTS)
The production contains themes of military action and is therefore recommended for ages 10+.
Photos © Brinkhoff/Mögenburg
VIDEO BY James Sposto