May. 25th, 2011

War Horse

May. 25th, 2011 12:21 am
wonderboynj: (Woofy Smile)
Fading away like the stars in the morning
Losing their light in their glorious sun
Thus would we pass from this earth and it's toiling
Only remembered for what we have done

Only Remembered, one of the moving songs in War Horse, a play with music currently on an open-ended run at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater.

You must see it. Get a ticket, and it's a hot ticket right now so it will take some doing, but it will be well worth the effort. Tip: Try to get a seat on one of the aisles.

I've been looking forward to this show since it was announced the London production would open in the United States, and I was not disappointed.

War Horse is based on a children's book, but it is far from a children's production. It's the story of a boy named Albert, and his horse, Joey. Joey is sold by Albert's alcoholic father to the British Calvary. Eventually Albert runs away to travel through Europe to find him.

Joey, and the other horses in the story, are puppets. Saying that they are puppets doesn't begin to describe them really. These puppets quickly become real. They breathe, they whinny, they stamp their feet, their hooves clomp when they walk around the stage, they do everything but poop on the stage. I'd say within 5 minutes of young Joey's appearance onstage no one in the audience thought of him as a puppet. There is also an adorable goose who I just wanted to take home with me. In addition to the two main horses, Joey and Topthorne, there are about 8 other horses in the show. Most of the other horses are not nearly as intricate as Joey and Topthorne.

As you can imagine the show packs quite the emotional punch but I wouldn't call it a tear jerker. There's a scene right near the very end where I think everyone in the theater gasped at the same time. The couple next to me from Spain burst out crying. That part in and of itself was worth the price of admission.

The staging of the show is a work of brilliance on it's own. I hesitate to use the word magic, but the entire back of the stage is dark and they use that to make the whole cast appear and disappear in seconds, and it is quite something to witness.

In World War I, it's estimated that 8 million horses died, that's almost as many horses as people. The ones that didn't die, were most often just left on the battlefields, in the trenches, or in France, sold to the local butcher. They weren't brought back as heroes.

As a side note, there was a fight behind me in the middle of the first act. This couple kept talking and talking and the people around me kept shushing them, it was like being at the opera the way people were shushing anyone who made the slightest noise. Anyway, finally this young man sitting next to the talking couple screamed "Shut the fuck up!" and hit the guy with his Playbill. Several of the actors on the stage turned and looked and I actually thought they were going to stop the show, they continued on though and those two seats were empty for the second act.

One thing about this show is it doesn't appear that Lincoln Center does a cancellation line. And outside of the theater, there are people literally begging for tickets. You would think these people were trying to get into The Book of Mormon. With the demand for tickets though, I was saddened to see a few empty seats and one entire empty row, for the whole show. Obviously people who had purchased tickets and just didn't show up for whatever reason.

So again, go see the show if at all possible. In addition to this production, it is going to begin a National Tour next year. I put some links to some neat video footage below.

This one I couldn't embed...

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