DENVER (CBS4) – It’s an amazing bit of stage magic bringing a puppet to life on stage, especially when it is one as big as the puppet in “War Horse.”
CBS4 Critic at Large Greg Moody found the show really powerful.
“They don’t star in the show. In a perfect world, you’ll never even notice that they are there. But they give a heart to the lead character and make you believe every bit of the stage magic before you,” Moody said.
It is stage magic. Somehow, three puppeteers — one visible — two inside a frame of cane and fabric and wood — make Joey the center piece of “War Horse” come alive on stage. And not simply on stage, but whenever and wherever they perform. Even in a theater lobby.
“We, as three team members, are really in sync with each other and are really dedicated to making this puppet come alive with our breath, with our expressions, with our bodies,” puppeteer Christopher Mai said. “We’re really, really in tune with each other that way.”
Using two heavy duty back braces, as well as a series of cables and bicycle controls, Joey can run, leap and carry a human rider into battle. It’s safe to assume that one show alone is difficult on the puppeteers.
“Every show is an event, it’s an adventure. The way the show works for Joey is that really by the end I need time to decompress after the show because it really is, not only physically challenging, but emotionally challenging,” puppeteer Rob Laqui said.
And yet it’s an art because the three become the head and the heart of Joey, no matter where they are.
“When they brought us in to meet Joey, his presence, having a horse in a rehearsal room was extraordinary,” actress Angela Reed said. “When he’s on stage with me he is a horse.”
“It’s an amazing bit of stage magic that I have never seen before,” Moody said. “And it captured me completely both times I’ve seen this show.”
“War Horse” opens the new Broadway season at the Denver Center for Performing Arts on Jan. 8 and runs for two weeks. Buy tickets early because the Tony Award winner is going fast.
Think about grabbing a subscription for the great season coming up. They’ve got plenty of packages and plans at all price levels to get in the door. Call (303) 893-4100 for tickets and information or visit Denver Center for Performing Arts website.
– Greg Moody is CBS4’s Critic At Large. His reports on CBS4 News are featured on the CBSDenver.com Entertainment section.