Before the show even started, we were all welcomed with complimentary coat-check and drinks – part of a theatre package offered through American Express Canada’s latest program aimed at surprising and delighting its Cardmembers. Called Amex Delights, this program lets you purchase special offers for the best concert, event and festival experiences out there. Just grab your Amex Card and head here. (Pssst! One of the current ‘Delights’ is another theatre show – Bring it On: The Musical, coming to Toronto in May!)
But back to War Horse … Ever since I saw Lassie as a child, I have steered clear of heroic animal stories in theatre and film. However, the reviews and praise for War Horse were too good to not check it out. Plus, one of the main characters in the play is horse – and a puppet. I mean, a horse puppet can’t make me cry, right?
WRONG. Joey, the horse puppet in War Horse, might as well have been a real horse trotting on stage. It so lifelike, it was remarkable. This is not a Punch and Judy show. War Horse takes puppetry to a whole new level. Geppetto would have been awed.
Aside from being a lovely story about a boy and his best friend, War Horse also boasts lots of gun blasts, battlefield scenes and soldiers in trenches. It’s pretty action-packed and the artistic direction and set design are so well done that it feels like you are transported into a scene from Saving Private Ryan. Although War Horse chronicles WW1, not WW2.
The horse puppets in the play are so intricate that there are multiple people required to play different parts of the horse’s body. Brad Cook is Joey’s head, for example, and Patrick Kwok-Choon is Joey as a foal. We loved pony Joey so much that we tweeted Patrick @KWOK_ROCK, who replied in a tweet that baby Joey loves two things: oats and fashion. #Awww.
Unlike so many musicals where a cast storm around and sing in unison about EVERYTHING, this is a very unique production. It is its own thing; it’s very cool.
The company’s bow was met with a fast standing ovation. My sister turned to me and said, “Now that was an emotional rollercoaster.” Who would have thought a horse puppet could be such a thrilling ride? Neiiiiiighhhhhhh!
And my ride as an #AmexAmbassador is just starting as I continue to report from the fun festivals, events and shows that Amex offers its Cardmembers. You can follow along on Twitter using the aforementioned hashtag, or check out the American Express Canada Facebook page.