As a stage director, I have tried many different approaches to directing. Sometimes treating the work like a movie with a musical underscoring to scenes to evoke a certain response from an audience. I have now seen a work that displays such mastery at doing this, I was completely blown away. Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris have co-directed War Horse on Broadway and what an amazing evening it is.
Sometimes words simply cannot describe what live theater can accomplish. But this one is the most 'cinematographic' experience I've ever witnessed on stage. The use of music, projections, moving stages - all adds to the wonder of this production.
What Julie Taymor has given us with puppets in the 90s has been extended far beyond anything I thought I could see with the people behind the Handspring Puppet Company and Toby Sedgwick's direction of the horses. There is such life and breath in the horses that you stop watching the puppeteers and I found myself looking deep into Joey's (the horse) eyes. The sounds of the hoofs on the stage as well as sounds of the horses themselves: all amazing. (And puppetry plays out in other ways in this stage play that I won't even share here; but just know the stage pictures are stunning!)
Based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo - the story has all that is right with those stories that tug at the heart strings. Like Fern and Wilbur, Sounder and his owner, or even the Free Willy series: the story of this boy and the love of his horse is a moving one that truly got to me. I did not notice that I had sat there for over 2 and a half hours. You are pulled into this story and the artistry of the stagecraft so much - you forget all time. I cannot recommend this enough if you are visiting New York. Theater should be about magic: and this Tony Award winning play delivers it in more ways than I can state in this blog.