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War Horse play enjoys Sydney, Australia media call at Lyric Theatre, The Star
This morning War Horse (the play – not the movie), enjoyed its Sydney media / production call.
It might have been a touch low on media attendance, but was high on talent, passion, and quality all around.
This Thursday War Horse will enjoy much more media attention with its Sydney red carpet premiere, however the Music News Australia and Media Man team were happy to get a leg up on the competition by getting an early look in at this world class production.
The acting, production, props and every other element certainly had a 5 star look and feel to it.
It’s little wonder media and audiences have been raving about the production the world over.
“War Horse is extraordinary theatre. Brilliant, bold, moving, it is a world-class fusion of performance, design and specially puppetry.” The Age
“Epic… Magnificent… Impressive. You can almost smell the sweat and leather and hear the galloping hooves of their magnificent “animals” manipulated by master puppeteers.” – Herald Sun
“Outstanding. The production confidently says: Come along for the ride.” – The Australian
“Unique and breathtaking theatre.” – Radio National
“Truly a spectacle that you have to experience.” – 3AW
"Everything about War Horse looks to be 5 stars. The overall production, acting, consuming, the animal robotics. The interaction between the actors, the horses and the audience is amazing and has to be experienced to be believed. This version of War Horse is just as satisfying as the movie – maybe more so in some regards. This may just be the best play to hit Australia this year. Highly recommended – Greg Tingle, Media Director – Media Man.
The Guardian’s Michael Billington wrote in his review:
Elliott and Morris recreate the kaleidoscopic horror of war through bold imagery, including the remorseless advance of a manually operated tank, and through the line-drawings of Rae Smith projected on to a suspended screen. Admittedly the performers are somewhat eclipsed by the action … The joy of the evening, however, lies in the skilled recreation of equine life and in its unshaken belief that mankind is ennobled by its love of the horse.
Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph had written that, generally, "puppets are often an embarrassment, involving a lot of effort and fuss for negligible returns"; in this case, he praised the puppetry as "truly magnificent creations by the Handspring Puppet Company." The Times’ 10-year-old guest reviewer called the show "movingly and realistically brought to life" and "an emotional and compelling adaptation of the book."
In reviewing the Broadway production, Ben Brantley wrote in The New York Times, "…it is how Joey is summoned into being, along with an assortment of other animals, that gives this production its ineffably theatrical magic…Beautifully designed by Rae Smith … and Paule Constable, this production is also steeped in boilerplate sentimentality. Beneath its exquisite visual surface, it keeps pushing buttons like a sales clerk in a notions shop." Brantley suggests, "The implicit plea not to be forgotten applies not just to the villagers, soldiers and horses portrayed here, but also to theater, as an evanescent art that lives on only in audiences’ memories. Judged by that standard, much of War Horse evaporates not long after it ends. But I would wager that for a good while, you’ll continue to see Joey in your dreams."
Entertainment Weekly gave a positive review, calling the show an "imaginative, moving new Broadway drama … The play’s equine stars are the remarkable creation of Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones’ Handspring Puppet Company. As manipulated by three handlers dressed in period costumes, the life-size creatures seem to breathe, snort, feed, walk, gallop, and rear up just as naturally as the genuine articles. In no time at all, they become characters as rounded and complex as any of the humans on stage." Time magazine ranked the play as its top choice among all theatre productions in 2011.
The Wall Street Journal’s Terry Teachout praised the puppetry, but gave mixed reactions to the play: "The fundamental flaw of ‘War Horse’ is that Nick Stafford, who wrote the script ‘in association’ (that’s how the credit reads) with South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, has taken a book that was written for children and tried to give it the expressive weight of a play for adults. Not surprisingly, Mr. Morpurgo’s plot can’t stand the strain. Dramatic situations that work perfectly well in the context of the book play like Hollywood clichés onstage. In the first act, the craftsmanship is so exquisite that this doesn’t matter—much—but things go downhill fast after intermission. The really big problem is the last scene, about which, once again, the drama critics’ code commands silence. This much must be said, though: A play that is so forthright about the horrors of war owes its audience a more honest ending."
Theatre review aggregator Curtain Critic gave the production a score of 88 out of 100 based on the opinions of 21 critics.
WAR HORSE MEDIA RELEASE:
Internationally acclaimed critical and box office hit
The National Theatre of Great Britain and Global Creatures are proud to bring the multiple Tony and Olivier Award-winning War Horse, to Australia.
Applauded by critics and audiences alike, War Horse held its Australian premiere in Melbourne on New Year’s Eve at Arts Centre Melbourne’s State Theatre. After the Melbourne season War Horse will travel to Sydney for a season at the Sydney Lyric from Saturday 16 March, 2013 and to Brisbane for a season at Lyric Theatre from Saturday 6 July, 2013.
Since its world premiere in London in 2007, War Horse has won numerous prestigious awards including two Laurence Olivier Awards, five Tony Awards and four Outer Critics’ Circle Awards amongst a host of others. The Handspring Puppet Company has also won many accolades including a 2011 Special Tony Award.
“The ANZAC spirit is deeply entrenched in the Australian ethos. We expect War Horse to have a great resonance in this country not only because of our connection to World War I but because themes of the land, loss and the ultimate triumph of friendship have a special place in the Australian psyche. We are proud to produce this highly acclaimed show with the National Theatre.” says Carmen Pavlovic, CEO of Global Creatures.
Nick Stafford’s stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s book, War Horse is a magnificent drama which tells the heart wrenching story of Joey, the beloved horse of a boy called Albert, who is sold to the cavalry at the outbreak of World War I and shipped to France. He’s soon caught up in enemy fire, and fate takes him on an extraordinary odyssey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man’s land. But Albert cannot forget Joey and, still not old enough to enlist, he embarks on a treacherous mission to find him and bring him home.
At its heart are astonishing puppets strong enough for men to ride, created by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, who bring breathing, galloping, charging horses to life on the stage. Life size horses traverse the stage, their flanks, hides and sinews built of steel, leather and aircraft cables. Actors, working with these dynamic puppets, will lead Australian audiences on an emotionally-charged journey through history.
"War Horse is a life affirming story about friendship, courage and family, which appeals to all ages. This is a production that brings the family together, we get people coming back again and again, and they always have the same reaction. It awakens something in you,” says Chris Harper, Producer, National Theatre of Great Britain.
War Horse has played to packed houses at London’s National Theatre, the West End’s New London Theatre and New York’s Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center. A further production opened in Toronto, Canada in February 2012 and a US tour commenced in June 2012.
Steven Spielberg’s movie adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s novel, released by DreamWorks Studios in late 2011, was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture.
Directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, War Horse is designed by Rae Smith, with puppet design and fabrication by Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler for Handspring Puppet Company, lighting by Paule Constable, and movement and horse choreography by Toby Sedgwick; the puppetry directors are Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler, with video design by Leo Warner and Mark Grimmer, songmaker John Tams, music by Adrian Sutton and sound by Christopher Shutt.
Lyric Theatre, Sydney – War Horse
Lyric Theatre, Sydney
War Horse On Stage official website
Media Man Int
Eva Rinaldi Photography
Fire Escape – New York
Image by Glyn Lowe Photoworks.
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