The five Tony award winner War Horse opened last week at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa California. Segerstrom Hall shined, filled to its maximum capacity with almost 3,000 souls. Over the course of two and a half hours, theater goers enjoyed the ups and downs of this complex story situated in England during World War I.
Albert, sixteen, gets a foal thanks to his father Albert’s gambling win. Joey the foal comes alive onstage. It is a puppet made out of mostly cane which has been soaked, bent and stained a light cinnamon color. Three puppeteers– one for the head, one for the torso and one for the tail, bring Joey to life with breathing, neighing and puffing sounds… simply fascinating! The puppeteers wear overalls and boots of the same color. Even though they are seen all the time onstage, the handling is so fine, so delicate, they disappear into the puppet.
Albert tries to befriend Joey but the foal is somewhat unsociable at first. Slowly it starts trusting Albert and allows him to teach it different tricks. Months pass and Joey is now a strong, young horse. An outstanding part of the production occurs with Joey’s transition from foal to horse. A 120 pound Joey bursts out onto the stage handled by three other puppeteers so the horse can be ridden.
Arthur, without any remorse or telling Albert, sells Joey to the English army to fight in the war. On the way he encounters Tophorn, a battle horse that is hostile toward Joey. When Albert finds out that Joey has been sold, he enlists in the army, lying about his age, so that he can go to war and find him.
Time passes. Both horse and man fight without finding each other. Joey gets trapped in barbed wire between German and English fire. A momentary truce is declared in order to save the animal. But who gets to keep it once out of danger? A flip of a coin will decide the horse’s destiny: Heads, the English get to keep him. Tails, the Germans do.
War Horse is based on the beloved novel of Michael Morpurgo and adapted by Nick Stafford. The Segerstrom Center for the Arts presents a breathtaking production that captivates and moves the audience as the story unfolds. The puppetry is handled with a great ability and professionalism that gives this musical its essence and meaning.
War Horse will be playing through February 3rd
600 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA
Tuesday thru Friday: 7:30pm/ Saturday 2:00pm and 7:30pm/Sunday 1:00pm and 6:30pm.
More information online at: www.scfta.org
- Active duty military personnel with current ID can purchase specially priced $20 tickets at the center box office: (714) 556-2787.
- Rush tickets may also be available, call the box office on the performance day to find out.
- There is an interactive exhibit of puppetry and WWI memorabilia at the theatre’s second floor.
Alejandra Enciso Guzmán is an arts consultant and reporter in both Tijuana and San Diego. @Riselah / @Riselaheng