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“War Horse” gallops into Toledo

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War Horse” galloped across the stage of the Stranahan Theater on Dec.4.

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Yesterday, in its debut performance in Toledo, an appreciative crowd sat spellbound as they watched the mixture of real people and huge puppets create the story about a boy and his pony. Based on British writer Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel, the book was first adapted for the stage in 2007 in England. The play then came to Broadway in 2011where it won Best Play and four other Tony Awards.

Wednesday night, Toledoans enjoyed director Bijan Sheibani’s vision of the Tony Award winning play. Sheibani stayed faithful to the Broadway version, and the story captured the special relationship that grows between the boy Albert and his foal named Joey. The relationship is cut short with the start of World War I. Joey is sold to the cavalry, and he is shipped to the front lines in France. Determined to find Joey, Albert lies about his age and enlists in the army. The adventure to reunite with his horse teaches Albert about the cruelty of war.

Michael Wyatt Cox portrays Albert Narracott. The actor earned his BFA in acting from the University of Central Florida; however, he considers himself an actor based in New York City. He has a number of acting credits from NYC, and he is considered a lead role in “War Horse,” but the puppets steal the show.

Three puppets, one pony and two horses, come to life thanks to the skill of the Handspring Puppet Company. Joey, one of two adult horse puppets, weighs 120 pounds. The puppet consists of bent cane, an aluminum frame with leather attached to it and a cover of fabric. It takes three puppeteers to operate Joey, but according to some audience members, the puppeteers fade from view.

After watching “War Horse,” Catherine Thomas said, “This is one of the best plays I have ever seen. (It) will make you cry and you will completely forget that the amazing horses are puppets.”

“War Horse” runs now until Dec. 8 at the Stranahan Theater on Heather Downs Blvd. Six more performances will happen in the next four days, so there is still time to catch the show. Times and ticket prices vary depending upon the show. Visit the Stranahan Theater website for more information.

If you miss the Toledo performances, “War Horse” will be up in Detroit at the Fisher Theatre on Dec. 15 through Jan. 5, 2014.

Check the “War Horse” website for additional cities on the tour.

If you want more updates on performing arts in the Toledo area, click on the “Subscribe” button next to the author’s name. It is a completely free service, and anytime a new article on entertainment events in the area is published, you’ll automatically receive an email notifying you of upcoming performances.

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