DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – No one expected it to become the international phenomenon that it has become. Debuting at the Nation Theater of London in 2007, War Horse quickly became a favorite of the critics and fans alike. It is simply a jaw dropping theatrical experience unlike anything anyone had ever seen on stage before.
The story is compelling. Based on the 1982 British children’s novel, it’s set in 1914 during World War 1. Historians recall how horses became such an integral part of wartime during that era but few realize how hundreds of thousands perished during the war effort. What were the stories behind those noble 4 legged heroes? War Horse tells the story of one – Joey – and his young master. But as moving and emotional as the story is – it’s really the groundbreaking staging and puppetry that takes your breathe away.
Dallas will be the 3rd stop on the show’s national tour right after Los Angeles and San Francisco – this is a major coup for our thriving Dallas Arts community. It is still running in London and at New York’s famed Lincoln Center and in Australia but we will be the only 3rd American city to receive the touring company.
I met up with some of the cast in Los Angeles for a sneak preview. They explained staging will differ in all cities as the actual stages are so unique but all will have a “thrust” stage which brings the action and drama almost into the audience’s lap. Our AT&T Performing Arts Center will be the perfect venue for the heartfelt and dramatic tale – already an intimate setting, the creation of the thrust platform staging will add so much more.
Three actors/puppeteers/dancers embody each horse – they take over as Head, Heart and Hind. All move in sync and not only undulate as real animals do but make the appropriate sounds as well. The actors tell me some nights they almost forget the prancing animals are just puppets and not real horses. Make no mistake – the performances of all the talented human bodies inside the puppet structures are as worthy as any of the more traditional performances seen on stage. The show won 5 Tony’s in 2011 including the Tony for Best Play as well as a special Tony for the creation of the unique puppetry.
All the actors agree at that it really is the simple story of a boy and his horse that captivates the audience and the impressive staging and puppetry makes it even more compelling. And they also agreed that even after every performance they are still moved by what they have accomplished.
War Horse will open at the AT&T Performing Arts Center September 12th and continue through the 23rd.