Lincoln Center Theatre Vivian Beamont previews begins on March 17, 2011 and opens on April 14, 2011. The plays has an open run for at least one year. It runs 2 hours and 40 minutes.
It sold out at London's National Theatre and was transfered to the West End (where it is still running).
The play was adapted by Nick Stafford from Michael Morpurgo 1982 children's book War Horse. Mr Morpurgo was Britains Children's Laureate from 2003 to 2005.
Steven Spielberg bought the rights to the novel before he even saw the show in London. The movie opens December 28, 2011.
The play is based around the love and bond between a young man and his horse.
Ted Narracott (Buris McGiver) is bidding on a foal against his brother (T. Ryder Smith). They are enemies. Arhur went to war in Africa and came back injured, Ted never went. Ted is a drunk and can't afford the horse but he out bids his brother "30 quaid". The money was to pay the mortgage .
Arthur son Billy (Matt Doyle) and his cousin Albert (Seth Numrich) are rivals.
Albert's mother (Alyssa Bresnahan) is furious and tells him he is charge of the horse until is grown and can be sold.
A strong bond between the horse and the young man's formed. The horse responds to a special whistle Albert has. He names him Joey.
Again Ted wages a bet with his brother concerning Joey. He bets the horse can pull a plow. Joey is a riding horse and not strong enough to pull a plow. Albert manages to get the horse to win th bet.
World Wat I startes in August 1914. The Army is looking for horses. They will pay 100 pounds for an officer horse. Ted sells the horse for the 100 pounds. The officer won't give Joey back. and promises Albert that the war will be over in three month's. He said he's been sketching Albert and the horse.
Albert wants to join the war to be by his horse but is turned down since he is only 16. His cousin on the other hand doesn't want to go but his father says make me proud. Here is the knife your granddad and I took to war.
When Albert gets the sketch book he realizes the officer is dead He has to go find Joey and inlists lieing about his age. When he gets to France he's not allowed to look for the horse.
The cavalry " was upended to the introduction of barbed wire and automatic machine guns".
In the meantime Joey and Tophorn (another horse from Albert's town) have become the possession o f a German soldier Hauptmann Friedrich Muller (Peter Hermann). Muller and other soldiers ares trying to take over a farm .Billy and and another soldier are brought in as prisoners. He's killed and his knife taken away .The German does all he can do to keep the horses out of battle, his luck runs out and they and two other horses are used pull a canon into battle Even the little girl Emile ( Madeleine Rose Yen) frm the farm can not save them. All the horses die except for Joey He runs away but get caught in the barbed wire and almost bleeds to death if not for the English and German soldiers in the trenches that hear his cries. The English bring to the horsr to the hospital to be taken care of.
Meanwhile Albert finds his cousins knife near a dead horse. He assumes Joey is dead. Albert ends up in the same hospital the horse is in. His eyes are bandaged from gas fumes that stung his eyes. The veterinary Officer Martin (Ian Lassiter) wanst to put him down It would take to much time to save him. His gun jams the horse makes a noise Joey whistles and the horse nuzzles him. All is well. The play ends with the two returning home.
The chances of Albert finding Joey seems far fetch. Eight million horses died during World War I. One million English horses were taken to France. Only 62,000 of them were brought back to England but I would hope that Joey was one of them. I'm sure the audience did too as I saw a few people had tears coming down their faces.
The wonderful puppets were made by "Handspring Puppet Company". The company was founded in 1981 in South Africa. Joey and Topthorn had two humans riders , four othersr had someone under them .Puppet soldiers were put on them in battle. They acted and sounded like horses .Other puppets were crows and a cute farm goose who flapped his wing and chased people.
The set is bleak a canvas is used on top to show clouds, sketchs of the farms building and battle scences. Rae Smith did the set-costumes-drawings.
Folk style music is sung throughout the play.
The cast is great. Several of the actors play several roles.
Animal lover or not director Marianne Elliot said "It's all about determination and the human spirit and faith"
Don't run take a horse to Lincoln Center for a show worth seeing.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich.
Photos by Annazor