"War Horse" onstage is an amazing blend of imagination, history, and relationships. With a simple backdrop of a torn piece of paper, the story unfolds on TPAC's Jackson Hall stage, where there is not a bad seat in the house.
The main character is Joey the horse, portrayed by a life-sized puppet. A supporting cast of puppets intermingle with human actors -- there is a goose that dares to steal a scene or two -- manipulated so well you forget the humans that are working the parts.
The story is of war, and all things that go with it: young men marching off, filled with pride, talking of "whipping those Germans" within a few months and marching back to glory. The fear and stress of battle, testing even the most brave of men. The role of women and their support. Losing good friends, making unusual allies. The costumes, sound effects, and backdrop had the audience gasping; the story is not pretty, for war never is, but it is filled with hope, as war can be.
"I wanted to compare the movie to the play," explains attendee Caleb Coltranc. He loved the theatre production. "It is very visual. I love it."
Behind the simple backdrop of drawings and visual effects, the characters reveal relationships we have all experienced in some way. Family, friends, communities, enemies, human/animal, neighbors, marriages, and more are played out onstage with simple props and settings. There is no need for an elaborate stage, for the magic of "Warhorse" is in the heart.
Much attention has been given to the puppets, created by Handspring Puppet Company. But one of the main characters to watch is Rose Narracott, the matriarch in every sense of the word (played with charm and grace by Maria Elena Ramirez). She is the bond between all of the characters: strong enough to dare step out of her life's role of a farmer's wife, but subtle enough to stay in the background and let people mend, grow, and change as they need.
Be sure to arrive early to the performance to view the special presentation on World War I and Tennessee. There is also information on how "Joey" and the other horses were created and operated. "We love live theatre," attendees Becky and Beth Cockarell explained, "but this time, these puppets are … are just amazing!"
The only issue with seeing "Warhorse" onstage is the sound. From the center balcony, it could be difficult at times to hear a few of the words to the songs. For attendees who are hearing impaired, TPAC can assist.
"Warhorse" will be showing at the Andrew Jackson Hall in Nashville, Tennessee June 5 through June 8. The theatrical version is based on the book by Michael Morpurgo, adapted by Nick Stafford.
For more information click HERE
For tickets and showtimes click HERE
The official "Warhorse On Stage" site HERE