- The beautiful children’s novel “War Horse,” written by
Michael Marpurgo, inspired the stage version of the story in
2007 and the Steven Spielberg film in 2011. But it is not the
story nor the music, though both are moving and worthy, that
make this present showing at the Marcus Center in Milwaukee so
remarkable. It is the incredible artistry and engineering
expertise of bringing mechanical horses to life on stage that
puts this show into a class by itself.
What a spectacle!
created these models and implemented their actions via human
puppeteers understood horses and every nuance of their sounds
and movements. These equestrian creations seem so real that
it’s difficult to find the words that would match the
experience of watching them.
story centers around a teenage boy named Albert and his horse
Joey, whom he trained and loved. When his father sold the
son’s horse to the army for 100 pounds, Albert was
devastated, but he was too young to join the forces, so he had
to let him go. The story follows the journey of Joey and
another horse,Topthorn, two strong brave stallions, and also
the fate of Albert. Because the horses seemed so real, we were
just as concerned about their fate as we were about the fate
of any other character.
special effects of the war scenes set in England and France in
World War I also also stunning. They were able to convey the
changes in the battle gear of warfare, and that the horse was
becoming passˇ as a transport for soldiers dead and alive.
They also show the horror of war, its chaos and randomness.
is a song man, played by John Milosich, who ties events
together. He has a lovely voice, but it is sometimes hard to
understand the lyrics. The orchestra provides soaring music as
backdrop, and the whole cast enters into patriotic songs
occasionally to set the mood and the time frame.
13 puppeteers that are involved in operating four horses are
all skilled, but special mention must be made of James Duncan,
Adam Cunningham and Aaron Haskell, who manipulated the adult
Joey, who had the most time on stage.
Wyatt Cox is a very memorable Albert. None of the other
characters are well developed. This was really a story of two
characters - Albert and Joey. They are the ones whom we loved
and cared about.
this is such a technical tour de force, special mention must
be made of the puppet design and direction by Adrian Kohler
and Basil Jones from Handspring Puppet Company, director of
movement and horse choreography by Toby Sedgwick, animation
and projection design by 59 Productions, and lighting and
sound design by Paule Constable and Christopher Shutte,
can see why this play won five Tony Awards in 2011. It is as
breathtaking as it is heartwarming, an electrifying
experience. It is well directed by Bijan Steibani.
is worth bearing the cold to see this one. We are lucky to be
part of a touring company that brings us such splendid
Horse” runs through Sunday at the Marcus Center for the
Performing Arts, 929 N. Water St., Milwaukee. Shows are at
7:30 p.m. tonight, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday
and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Call 414-273-7206 or visit