A Puppet That Could Make You Cry ~ War Horse on Broadway

2 - Albert and Joey-1. Andrew Veenstra (Albert) with John Riddleberger, Patrick Osteen, Jessica Krueger (Joey)

If you have seen the movie WAR HORSE,  you have a reference for a story that revolves around the love of a horse with a dramatic plot that is filled with incredible scenery.

My only point of reference for the story was from watching the movie which was inspired by the novel. I was intrigued about the concept of a Broadway play that would retell the story with the absence of the incredible scenery and live animals that I remembered from the movie.

The tour of WAR HORSE, based on the beloved novel by Michael Morpurgo and adapted by Nick Stafford, will be directed by Bijan Sheibani based on the original Tony® Award-winning direction by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, and presented in association with Handspring Puppet Company. At the heart of the show are life-sized puppets which bring breathing, galloping, charging horses to thrilling life on stage.

I was blown away by the creativity and imagination that was used to bring both of those challenges to the stage with new life.

3 Joey and Topthorn

Hailed by The New York Times as “theatrical magic,” WAR HORSE is the powerful story of young Albert’s beloved horse, Joey, who has been enlisted to fight for the English in World War I. In a tale the New York Daily News calls “spellbinding, by turns epic and intimate,” Joey is caught in enemy crossfire and ends up serving both sides of the war before landing in no man’s land. Albert, not old enough to enlist, embarks on a treacherous mission to find his horse and bring him home. What follows is a remarkable tale of courage, loyalty and friendship, filled with stirring music and songs and told with the some of the most innovative stagecraft of our time.

There were soooo many elements of the show that really impressed me.

6 Albert and Joey. Andrew Veenstra Albert with Christopher Mai Derek Stratton Rob Laqui Joey1

First, the puppeteers were absolutly incredible!!!

7 Joey as a foal with Albert. Andrew Veenstra Albert with Nick LaMedica Laurabeth Breya Catherine Gowl Joey as a foal1

They accurately mimicked the mannerisms of a horse with such detail that you almost began to forget that you were not watching a real horse on stage.

1 Albert and Joey. Andrew Veenstra Albert with Christopher Mai Derek Stratton Rob Laqui Joey

The actors actually rode horses during the play.

5 Grayson DeJesus on Topthorn and Michael Wyatt Cox on Joey

The detail behind the design alone that would allow three puppeteers operating the horse, as an actor rides the puppet, is absolutely incredible to observe.

There were multiple horses.

3 Joey and Topthorn

I honestly thought that I would only see one horse in the show.

9 Joey. Christopher Mai Derek Stratton Rob Laqui

The fact that they were able to create several horses that also felt believable was even more amazing!

They were able to recreate key points in the movie by using creative props and imagery.

4 Joey and the US National Tour of WAR HORSE

They make you feel like you are in the battle scenes.

I’ll admit that I jumped in my seat a few times.

10 US National Tour of WAR HORSE

There were moments of humor.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know that the story can be pretty intense. I loved that there were little pieces of humor sprinkled throughout the show to help lighten the heavy feel of the time period.

After the performance, I noticed some of the audience members had teary eyes. The story hit close to home to different people for different reasons. One person that I talked to afterwards shared that they owned a horse and that the mannerisms were spot on and reminded her of her horse.

 So I will warn you that a puppet could make you cry and will definitely capture your heart!

 In addition to Best Play, WAR HORSE received Tony® Awards for Best Direction of a Play (Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris), Best Scenic Design of a Play (Rae Smith), Best Lighting Design of a Play (Paule Constable), and Best Sound Design of a Play (Christopher Shutt). A Special Tony Award was given to Handspring Puppet Company for their integral work on the production.


WAR HORSE will play the Aronoff Center from March 26 – April 7, 2013

Tuesday- Friday at 8:00PM, Saturday at 2:00PM and 8:00PM, and Sunday at 1:00PM and 6:30PM.

Tickets for WAR HORSE range from $28 – $83 and are subject to change based on demand.

They are available at the Aronoff Center Box Office downtown at 650 Walnut Street, online at or by phone at 513.621.ARTS.

For groups of 10 or more, contact the group sales department at 513.369.4363. Performance schedule, prices and cast are subject to change without notice.

For more information, please visit or


All photo credit is given to  © Brinkhoff/Mögenburg




Disclosure:  I was provided complimentary tickets for review purposes. All opinions are my own.


2 thoughts on “A Puppet That Could Make You Cry ~ War Horse on Broadway”

  1. Great comments about the show and wonderful production pictures! I think it’s important to note, though, that the Broadway show did not bring the movie to life without the “scenery and live animals.” The theatre production was actually based off of a young reader’s book and actually helped inspire Spielberg to make the movie. This is not someone just trying to put a movie on stage; this is an innovative piece of theatre that in fact inspired the film industry! Book, then stage, then movie. 🙂

Leave a Comment