Monday, November 26, 2012

"War Horse, an Adult Puppet Show"

by Good News Reporter, Joanne Quinn-Smith

Right after seeing “War Horse,” I came down with the flu but I thought this Broadway hit in Pittsburgh at the Benedum on November 13 was important enough to post anyway.  What a multi media event.  This was just not a play but a rendering of musical interludes, hovering screen video scenes and amazing puppetry. Yes it was a puppet show for adults.  As I looked around the room it was amazing to me how few children there were and that’s because the show was targeted for adults. 

The poignant Tony Award winning play displays the ravages and unfairness of war while still allowing the theatre audience a chance to revel in childhood fantasies, the memory of grandpa’s bedtime stories and the thrill of near real life adventure.
 Joey, the protagonist stallion of "War Horse," is believable with every toss of his tale and shake of his head.  For the length of the play I was transfixed by the beguiling eyes of a puppet and the very real and regal galloping steed.

Albert and Joey
Adapted by Nick Stafford from Michael Morpurgo's novel, "War Horse" spans a rural village in England with all of its competitive nuances between two brothers to the literally blood spattered events of World War I.   The touching story of a boy and his horse transfixed me like so many stories of childhood but with the accoutrements of modern theatre.   With a touching interlude of song during the performance and an overhead screen in the form of a torn journal page brings the elements of war starkly to the stage. 

What a wrenching story when the horse’s young man Albert and Joey are parted over the money that his father can get for him from the army.  But the real drama is in the movement of the horse Joey and one of his counterparts as three men moving the horse in unison portray the gallops and tail swished and head tosses that are so realistic. The poignancy of the story comes from Joey’s interaction and touching of all he meets from British and German soldiers to a young farm girl and her mother.  For two hours I was mesmerized by this multimedia production of War Horse.

Also my hat is off to the “handlers” of Joey and the other horses.  One could see that this took agility and training and timing.  Although we won’t remember those handlers, we will remember the gallant way that Joey filled up the stage with energy and charm and sometimes pathos but always with the regality of a thoroughbred. 

The life-size horses that regaled the audience onstage were created by South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company.   They whinny realistically, twitch their ears and swat their tails.  They amuse and captivate every bit as much as the characters in the both the movie and the book.  When you see “War Horse” you will be amazed at the pageantry and how life size puppetry, music, acting and multimedia presentation can tell a story that will leave you on the edge of your seat and wrapped up in the story of Albert and Joey. If this comes to Pittsburgh again be sure to see it.

Radio Host and Serial Blogger, Joanne Quinn-Smith is the host of PositivelyPittsburghLive™ Internet Talkcast and TechnoGrannyShow™  On her shows, Joanne has interviewed over 1800 guests.  As an advocate for small Business, she was awarded the National Small Business Administration Journalist of the Year Award.  She is also the publisher of which is a 2010 National Stevie Award finalist for best Media Website or Blog. PPL Mag features the GOOD NEWS, about Pittsburgh  and is  Pittsburgh’s First internet radio and TV network. PPL Mag attracted 2.25 million visitors last year.  Her radio network has accumulated over one million listeners. The Creative Energy Officer of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates, Joanne also teaches her online media platform building to small businesses in a client personalized, “Web2.0 Gorilla Branding Training™”.  Connect with Joanne at:

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