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Theatre Review: War Horse at the Detroit's Fisher Theatre

Five-time Tony winning play, War Horse, arrived at Detroit’s Fisher Theatre this week for a lengthy three week stint. War Horse is a show unlike anything that you've ever seen before. The show is an artful blend of masterful puppetry, astounding visual effects, and superb acting with a truly captivating plot line. War Horse tells the war tale of Albert and his beloved horse, Joey. Albert’s father wins Joey at an auction and Albert becomes Joey’s friend and his trainer. Joey, the horse, ends up being enlisted to fight in World War I for the English side. The show follows Albert on the search for his beloved horse and Joey being caught in enemy crossfire.

War Horse is based on the 1982 book of the same name, written by Michael Morpurgo.  The show opened in October of 2007 at The National Theatre on the South Bank in London, England. Its Broadway arrival came in April of 2011 at the Lincoln Center and it lasted for for 718 performances, closing in January of this year. War Horse was adapted to stage by Nick Stafford, with direction from Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris. The incredible horse puppetry in War Horse was created by South Africa's The Handspring Puppet Company. In 2011, War Horse won 5 Tony Awards including Best Play and Best Direction of a Play. The Steven Spielberg film adaptation came soon after the play opened on Broadway in late 2011.

War Horse brings to stage all of the horror and bloodshed that go along with war. One million British soldiers were sent to France with only 62,000 making it back home. Young Albert wants to follow his horse, Joey, into battle, but due to being underage he cannot. He finally makes it into battle by lying about his age and spends much of the play searching and battling to find his much beloved horse. Throughout the show there is music with songs sung by the full cast at certain points, though most of the music was by a solo male singer with an accordion.

Joey, the War Horse, is the real star of the show.  He steals all of his scenes on the stage, and even though he may be a puppet version of a horse, he seems to be quite real to those viewing. It takes 3 puppeteers to being Joey to life; you are made to believe that you’re watching a real live horse on stage. Joey makes realistic noises, makes life-like movements and has a realistic 7 foot stature. War Horse depicts war with a true, yet somber tone. Due to the educational aspect of War Horse, it should be safe viewing for upper elementary school kids to see. War Horse makes for an ideal family theater outing or a great holiday present. Be sure to catch War Horse while it's in town, it's a show unlike anything that you've ever seen before!

War Horse runs at Detroit’s Fisher Theatre through January 5, 2014. All Balcony II tickets for War Horse were recently reduced to $25 for all of the rest of the performances.

Check out some of the awesome War Horse merchandise!