War Horse enjoyed long runs in both London and New York, winning several awards along the way, though critics and audience members delivered varying verdicts: Some were swept away by the magnificent puppetry, others bored by the one-dimensional characters and simplistic story. The script is actually an adaptation of a children’s book by Michael Morpurgo; now locals -- including children over ten -- will get a chance to experience this blockbuster for themselves.
A young boy, Albert, has bonded deeply with Joey, the horse given to him by his alcoholic father. But then comes World War One, and Joey is sold to a regiment leaving for France. The tone of the play changes as the futile savagery of war is revealed, along with the suffering of horses forced into service. Albert lies about his age, enlists, and sets out alone to find his horse.
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The horses are the stars of the show, and they come courtesy of Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones of the Handspring Puppet Company. “Puppets always try to be alive,” Jones has said. “It’s their kind of Ur-story on stage, that desperation to live.” Helping those puppets come alive is award-winning choreographer Toby Sedgwick, who has studied every facet of horse movement, including “the walk, the trot, the gallops, all the little tail flicks, what the ears mean” and figured out how to communicate the essence of that movement on stage.
War Horse opens tonight and continues through January 20 in the Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex. For tickets, starting at $25, visit www.denvercenter.org or call 303-893-4100.
Tuesdays-Fridays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Thu., Jan. 17, 2 p.m. Starts: Jan. 8. Continues through Jan. 20, 2013