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Wisconsin native Andy Truschinski describes the bonds in 'War Horse"

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The Marcus Center is kicking off the new year with Tony Award-winning play "War Horse." Based on Michael Morpurgo's popular children's book, "War Horse" tells the story of the bond between a boy and his horse, and the lengths the boy goes through stay together. Friday, Dec. 20, Wisconsin native and actor Andy Truschinski plays Private David Taylor and took the time to share a bit about this production. "War Horse" will run at the Marcus Center from Jan. 7-12.

Andy Truschinski grew up in Marshall, Wisconsin and moved on to study at UW- Whitewater where he intended to study teaching theater. However, his admiration for his older brother (also an actor) and successful auditions paved the way for his budding acting career. He progressed to bigger cities moving form Whitewater to Chciago and finally to New York, where he auditioned and landed his current role in "War Horse." He shared his excitement in returning to Wisconsin saying,

I'm excited to go see friendly faces and I love the Milwaukee area... I'm really excited. It's like being able to put my feet back on the ground a little bit- back to your home base. I can't wait!

This book-turned-play debuted in 2007, with a Steven Spielberg film following in 2011. Truschinski touched on the order of the different adaptations and their relation to each other saying,

Steven Spielberg saw the show and was enamored by it and wanted to make the movie. [The play] is solely related to the book and then "War Horse" the movie came out and that's based upon both materials. [Spielberg] definitely did a lot with the book but he loved the show as well so there will be different elements. The idea was the same but it's going to be a different show entirely.

The plot of the story is about a boy, Albert, who is separated from his horse during WWI and enlists in order to reunite with it. Truschinki's character, David Taylor, befriends the boy and becomes his confidant. In preparation for this role, Truschinski did a lot of reading about trench warfare and the feel of war at the time, but he claims "War Horse" is about much more than war drama.

There's so much love in various ways. In friendship, between the boy and his horse, his family, the struggles of trying to live in the same village as a brother that he's at odds with all the time.. There's a lot of elements within the story that anyone can latch onto. So if someone wants to watch the puppets, maybe the person they come with likes the boy and his horse and want the friendships in this. There's a lot of stuff happening in it.

The puppets are really what make this theatrical production so unique. Albert's horse, Joey, is represented by a life-size horse puppet controlled by three actors. To create this realistic effect, the actors controlling the puppets have weeks of training before rehearsals even start, so that they can learn how to make it look like the puppet is a living, breathing horse. The result is clearly effective as Truschinski testifies,

The one thing we get a lot is 'I can't believe that I thought this horse was real!' We hear that a lot and that just tells you how amazing these people are under the horse.... The puppeteers' puppet work is amazing with these horses. It's pretty unbelievable.

But even as someone involved in the production who gets to see the puppets at work every day, Truschinski still finds them as fascinating as an audience member.

The puppets are something that no one's ever seen before. Regardless of everything else which, there are so many good things about this show, watching those puppets move, it's one of the most incredible things I've ever seen in my entire life.

But the horses aren't the only puppets in the show. Puppets are a huge presence in the production as there are human puppets during certain battle scenes and human puppets on top of horses, as well as crow puppets. And while the concept of playing opposite a puppet may seem strange, Truschinski says it becomes a natural process as the puppets come to life and they play opposite the puppeteers.

There are so many different ways to interact with different puppets and it's pretty fun because you are staring at the puppet, but you're interacting with the puppeteer.... You are acting with the puppeteer and their choices and how they want their crow to interact or what kind of mood Joey is in at the time.

Truschinski says that there's something in "War Horse" for everyone. Whether you're an animal lover or fan of the book or simply a theater enthusiast, the bond between Albert and Joey is one that relates to us all. Those under the age of ten might be better left at home, however, as there are some battle scenes involving death and gunfire. This being said, it is based on a book for young teens and children, so it may very well depend on the child and Truschinski says to have seen a wide range of audiences.

"War Horse" runs at the Marcus Center Jan. 7-12 and tickets are available online or by calling (414)273-7206. For more information about the show, please visit http://www.warhorseonstage.com/tickets/us_tour.

This is an epic event that you've never seen before. You're going to come to a show and magic will literally happen in front of your eyes because you're going to believe that these horses are real, you're going to believe that these friendship are real, and I know that walking away you're going to be elated and surprised that you've seen something that you've never seen before.

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