BWW Reviews: WAR HORSE - A Visually Stimulating Unique Experience
War Horse is an emotionally stimulating and visually stunning spectacle. Spot on acting, visual and audio affects, and a simple set pull together to bring the audience back to World War I era Europe. Screens, lighting, projected images, and music help to tell the story and propel you along this exciting journey. Part of the "Broadway at the Marcus Center" series, War Horse opened in Milwaukee on Tuesday at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.
Based on Michael Morpurgo's 1982 novel, War Horse tells the engaging story of the relationship between an English farm boy (Albert, played by Michael Wyatt Cox with an air of innocence and naiveté that was refreshing to watch) and his horse, Joey. The two grow up together on the English farm, developing their relationship as the world changes and grows around them. Eventually, Albert's father sells Joey to the military to help make ends meet on The Farm. Albert is devastated by this, but is promised by Major Nicholls (the officer who took charge of Joey) that he will take care of his friend. As the war progresses, Joey works with another Army horse (Tophron) as a team. Back at home, Albert never forgets his friend. He joins the war efforts and the army in order to search for Joey.
Though the story is really (as many critics may say) one of a boy and his horse, the friendship between the two really resonates with the audience. Although the story takes place during World War I, the themes of friendship, survival, and abandonment are timeless and as relevant today as they would have been in the early 1900's.
The stars of War Horse, though, are the animated puppets and their operators. The first horse appears early in the show, and you are captivated by the gracefulness and reality of the puppets. Eventually, it is easy to overlook the human operators of the horses. It is easy to suspend reality and see the horses as actual living, breathing characters in the story. The puppets (and their operators) are as integral to the story and the experience of this unique play as the human actors themselves. Another great addition to the experience of War Horse, is the "Song Man" (played by John Milosich), who weaves the story together in song with a gorgeous voice full of emotion and tenderness.
War Horse is a unique theatrical experience that can be shared by the whole family. This five time Tony Award winning show will not disappoint! I highly suggest making a trip down town to see this show while you can! War Horse will be playing at the Marcus Center for Performing Arts from now until January 12, 2014. Further information can be found at the Marcus Center. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office (414) 273-7206 or online through Ticketmaster.
photo: © Brinkhoff/Mögenburg : Albert and Joey. Andrew Veenstra (Albert) with Christopher Mai, Derek Stratton, Rob Laqui (Joey)