Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Broadway Buzz: War Horse Gallops to the Big Screen

If you’re looking for a fun activity this holiday, catch a great story coming to the big screen on Christmas Day, “War Horse.” Directed by the great Steven Spielberg, “War Horse” will avoid the gore seen in his previous war movies and has a personal tie to the director’s family. Spielberg was inspired to take on the project by his youngest daughter who is a competitive horse jumper (the family owns eight horses). Spielberg saw the Broadway play before committing to the project and was brought to tears by the emotional story.

Based on the 1982 book by Michael Morpurgo recently featured on the Today Show’s Al’s Book Club, the story of “War Horse” follows two friends – a horse named Joey and a young man named Albert. After Albert raises and trains Joey, the two are parted at the beginning of WWI when Joey is sold to be used in the war. Albert cannot forget his friend and sets out to find his horse and bring him home. Even though the story is set during the war, Spielberg said “This is much more a real story about the way that animals can actually connect people together. Joey’s miracles are actually in his great sense of optimism and hope, in the people he encounters, and how he brings something new into their lives.” Read more in the Vancouver Sun.

Photograph by Paul Kolnik

So why are you reading movie tips on a theater blog? Before hitting the big screen this December, “War Horse” made a name for itself as an acclaimed play. War Horse premiered onstage at London’s National Theatre in 2007 and moved to the West End in 2009 after two sold out runs. The show then opened on Broadway in April 14, 2011 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater and won five Tony® Awards including Best Play and is still running. A War Horse national tour was just announced, and the show will be visiting 20 cities in the 2012/13 season. Keep your fingers crossed for an engagement at the Fox Cities P.A.C.!

Photograph by Paul Kolnik
The captivating story is a definite draw to the performance, but so are the horses onstage. War Horse uses amazing puppetry to bring the horses to life in the production, including a young Joey. Each horse puppet is controlled by three people and mimic the movements of live horses, including pinning their ears to show emotion, fluent gaits and carrying a rider.

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