The National Theatre’s epic WAR HORSE, winner of five 2011 Tony® Awards including Best Play, made its Atlanta debut at the Fox Theatre Tuesday night, as part of the Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Atlanta 2012-13 season. WAR HORSE is currently playing at New York’s Lincoln Center Theater, in London’s West End, and at Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre. The show will continue at the Fox Theatre through Sunday. If you don't have tickets yet, I highly recommend you try to get to this truly one-of-a-kind show.
While the show is, of course, entertainment, it's also a history lesson. I was inspired to visit the official show website and read the educational materials available for anyone (teachers, students, or people like me...). You can read it too at http://www.warhorseonstage.com/education
I'm no theatre critic, and this one is hard to put into words, so I'm relying largely on press materials provided to me. But that said, I was simply amazed at the life-sized horse puppets created by South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company. I found it impossible NOT to see them as horses - even though throughout the show I was watching as an ear wiggled, or a horse kicked up a leg - just to see how it was done and how it was made to look SO real. (See the official website for video).
Also, while WAR HORSE isn't technically a musical, there's a beautiful, haunting score, not to mention a number of folk songs performed live on stage which bring even more emotion to the performance.
WAR HORSE is the story of young Albert’s beloved horse, Joey, who has been enlisted to fight for the English in World War I. Joey is caught in enemy crossfire and ends up serving both sides of the war before landing in no man’s land. Albert, not old enough to enlist, embarks on a treacherous mission to find his horse and bring him home. What follows is a remarkable tale of courage, loyalty and friendship, filled with stirring music and songs and told with the some of the most innovative stagecraft of our time.
The above comes from press materials and is largely what makes up the second act. However, the first act revolves around Albert and Joey, together on their farm in England. It's not about the war, and there are no battle scenes - it's about a boy and his horse, the bond they develop, and Albert's determination to keep Joey despite attempts from his uncle and others to take him away.
The play is actually based on a 1982 children's novel by Michael Morpurgo. It is also the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s feature film of the same name, which earned six Oscar nominations including Best Picture. My 7-year-old says the movie is his favorite movie EVER. (He loves history and horses.) And I really wanted to take him to this show, but was told he was probably too young - not to mention it was late on a school night when I attended.
And this is why I bring up the differences in the first versus second acts. At intermission, I thought, Drew would LOVE this! And then after intermission came the war. The lighting was dark. The story was what you'd expect from a historical war drama - full of violence and sadness. And also questionable language for a young child (granted with the accents, they might not have any idea what the actors' are saying). While the movie is also violent, something about the stage production is just more real. It's definitely meant for older kids (you know your own child) and adults.
I may go look for the book now to read it with Drew however. And part of me still wants to take him. But I expect this show will be around for a long time...at least I hope that's the case. And maybe in a couple of years we'll be able to go together.
But don't let this dissuade you from seeing this brilliant show. If you take your older children, read through the educational guide first. And if you go, prepare to be moved, saddened, and simply stunned.
Tickets for WAR HORSE begin at $33 and are available through authorized ticket sellers at the Fox Theatre Box Office, online at www.broadwayinatlanta.com/ or www.FoxAtlTix.com or by phone at 1-855-ATL-TIXX. **Save 10% on tickets with code WHSAVE10 at www.FoxAtlTix.comPERFORMANCES
WAR HORSE will play in Atlanta at the Fox Theatre September 25-30. The performance schedule is Tuesday-Saturday evening at 8 p.m.; Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Recommended for ages 10 plus.
for more on the show including video. Or, visit BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com
for more on the upcoming season at the Fox, including the much anticipated The Book of Mormon
.*I received complimentary tickets to this performance in return for reviewing the show. Opinions are my own.