Theater Review “War Horse” Kansas City, Missouri

“War Horse”
April 1, 2014
Music Hall
Kansas City, Missouri

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

It was an incredible evening in Kansas City this week when the Tony Award winning play “War Horse” rode triumphantly into the Music Hall for a one week engagement.

Based on the popular children’s book of the same name by Michael Morpurgo (adapted for the stage by Nick Stafford, the play was also the basis for the very successful Steven Spielberg-helmed film from 2011.

The play begins in August 1912 in England. A horse auction is about to commence. In a bidding war between the Narracott brothers – well-to-do Arthur (Andrew Long) and down-on-his-luck Ted (Gene Gillette). As the two go at it, they drive the price to more than three times the usual. Ted wins but he must spend the mortgage money on the creature. What’s worse, while Ted was looking for a plow horse, he has come home with a hunter. He entrusts the care of the horse to his son, Albert (Michael Wyatt Cox). Albert names the horse “Joey,” and with love and kindness, the two bond. Soon, young Joey is a majestic steed…rearing up in joy when Albert is near. It is a bond that will continue to hold, even when separated by war.

Winner of 5 Tony Awards (and a special Tony for it’s remarkable puppetry), including Best Play, “War Horse” is a show that you will remember forever. Not only for its great cast and outstanding set design, but for the amazing work of the South African Handspring Puppet Company. What they have created is nothing short of miraculous. Life size horses gallop and play on the stage, guided not only by the puppeteers inside the creation but the one guiding the head as well, capturing the very essence of movement and grace. With the “handlers” dressed as others in the cast, they blend in so nicely that one can easily begin to believe the horses are real.

As the story progresses over six year, Joey learns to do things he wasn’t intended to and uses those skills to not only help himself but to save the lives of those around him. He is truly the star of this production and I can’t tip my hat enough to the artists that bring him, and the other horses, to life. The human actors also do a great job. As Albert, Cox displays just the right amount of wide-eyed innocence that is slowly lost as he goes off to battle in an effort to search for his friend. Both Long and Gillette portray the conflict between the two Narracott brothers sharply. Yes, there is some anger and animosity there, but underneath there is love. Others who deserve special notice include Maria Elena Ramirez as Albert’s mother, Andrew May as a German officer who soon understands the horror of war and Caden Douglas as the hard charging Captain Stewart. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the cast that brings Joey to life: Jon Hoche, Brian Robert Burns and Jessica Krueger. Bravo!

“War Horse” continues in Kansas City through April 6.
April 8        Orpheum Theater               Omaha, Nebraska
April 22     Capitol Theater                    Salt Lake City, Utah
April 29     Popejoy Hall                         Albequerque, New Mexico
May 6          Bass Concert Hall               Austin, Texas

“War Horse” Blu-ray/DVD Combo Giveaway [ENDED]


Available on Blu-ray™, DVD and On-Demand on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012.

To celebrate the Blu-Ray™ release of “War Horse”, Media Mikes would like to giveaway 10 copies of the 2-Disc Combo Pack (Blu-ray™ +DVD). If you would like to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email and let us know your favorite Spielberg film. This giveaway will be open until Tuesday April 17th at Noon, Eastern Time and is only open to residents of the United States. Only one entry per person, per household; all other entries will be considered invalid. Once the giveaway ends, Media Mikes will randomly pick out winners and alert the winners via email.

Legendary Academy Award®-winning motion picture director/producer Steven Spielberg presents the critically acclaimed and multi Academy Award®-nominated epic adventure “War Horse” on Blu-ray™, DVD, Digital and On-Demand, April 3. This newest home entertainment release not only enthralls viewers once again with its visually stunning and emotionally heartwarming story on the Blu-ray, but also offers an unprecedented look into the making of the film by Spielberg himself.

2-Disc Combo Pack (Blu-ray + DVD)

  • Includes: “War Horse”: The Journey Home An Extra’s Point of View
  • Includes: “War Horse”: The Look

Film Review “War Horse”

Starring:  Jeremy Irvine, Emma Watson and David Thewlis
Directed by:  Steven Spielberg
Rated:  PG 13
Running time:  2 hours 26 mins
Touchstone Pictures

Our Score: 5 out 5 stars

Sometimes you know what you need.  And sometimes you know what you want.  This is never more true in the case of Ted Narracott (Peter Mullan) and his family.  Peter is a good man who often finds his judgement clouded by a touch of the grape (or that strange combination of barley and hops).  Ted and his son, Albert (Irvine) have come to town to buy a plow horse.  To describe their farmland as rocky is an understatement and the horse they need must be strong and stout.  Of course, against all reason, Ted bids on and purchases a beautiful thoroughbred.  Fast as lightning and pretty to look at, Ted’s neighbors, as well as his disapproving wife (Watson) just shake their head.  But, as they will all soon discover, this is surely no ordinary horse.

Told with the emotion-gripping style that is a trademark of many Steven Spielberg films, “War Horse” is based on the popular 1982 children’s novel by Michael Morpurgo.  The book is enjoying a great afterlife as it’s also the basis for a popular play currently running on Broadway.  Adapted by British screenwriters Lee Hall (“Billy Elliot”) and Richard Curtis (“Love Actually”), the film captures the emotions of the book perfectly.  Despite his mother’s doubt at the choice of horse, named Joey by Albert, the horse learns to pull a plow, digging rows and rows of rock-packed earth to prepare for planting.  Albert also learns that before his father became the sad, broken man he appears to be, he had fought for England and received several medals.  He finds his father’s campaign ribbon and ties it to Joey’s bridle.  When World War I begins, Joey is “leased” by an officer, who promises to return him after the war.  A war that seems will never end.

Has there been another director in the history of film who could manipulate the heartstrings as well as Steven Spielberg?  Whether it’s Elliot and E.T., Oskar Schindler and the 1100 Jews or Captain Miller saving Private Ryan, Spielberg has managed to pull us into his films, as if we ourselves were the main character.  He is assisted here by a stellar cast and a remarkable animal.  As the bickering but loving Narracotts, Mullan and Watson seem like they’ve been together for years.  After she’s been disappointed for the umpteenth time, Ted asks his wife if she hates him.  “I may hate you more,” she tells him, “but I’ll never love you less.”  Irvine, in his motion picture debut, is equally strong.  His love for Joey has no boundaries and you can understand why he embarks on the mission he does to find him.

As he did on “Saving Private Ryan,” Spielberg takes us in and up close to the horrors of war.  There is one great scene where the mounted troops charge a German outpost, the sound of the horses thundering hooves matching the beating hearts of their riders.  The cinematography, by Spielberg’s long time Oscar winning DP Janusz Kaminski is breathtaking, as is John Williams spot on musical score.  The one complaint I’ve heard about the film is that the battle scenes seem tame.  They are intense but they’re nothing like the ones in “Saving Private Ryan,” toned down, in my estimation, so that the young readers of the book could see the film.

Official Poster from Spielberg’s “War Horse”

Above is the official one sheet for DreamWorks Pictures’ WAR HORSE.

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Genre:  Drama
Rating:   PG-13
U.S. Release date: December 28, 2011
Cast:  Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irvine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Kebbell
Director:  Steven Spielberg
Producers:  Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy
Executive Producers:  Frank Marshall, Revel Guest
Screenplay by:  Lee Hall and Richard Curtis
Based on the book by: Michael Morpurgo
and the recent stage play by Nick Stafford, produced by the National Theatre of Great Britain and directed by Tom Morris and Marianne Elliot

DreamWorks Pictures’ “War Horse,” director Steven Spielberg’s epic adventure, is a tale of loyalty, hope and tenacity set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War. “War Horse” begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets—British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter—before the story reaches its emotional climax in the heart of No Man’s Land.

The First World War is experienced through the journey of this horse—an odyssey of joy and sorrow, passionate friendship and high adventure. “War Horse” is one of the great stories of friendship and war— a successful book, it was turned into a hugely successful international theatrical hit that is currently on Broadway. It now comes to screen in an epic adaptation by one of the great directors in film history.

DreamWorks Pictures’ “War Horse,” director Steven Spielberg’s epic adventure, is a tale of loyalty, hope and tenacity set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War.


Related Content

A Pale Horse Named Death “And Hell Will Follow Me” CD Review

A Pale Horse Named Death
“And Hell Will Follow Me”
Producer: Sal Abruscasto/Matt Brown
Tracks: 13
Run time: 53 minutes and 37 seconds

Our Score: 3 out of 5

“And Hell Will Follow Me” is the debut release from Life of Agony drummer/ Type O Negative Co-Founder Sal Abruscasto’s new band A Pale Horse named Death. “And Hell Will Follow Me” showcases the many talents of Sal Abruscasto as he is the sole musician featured on the album. Abruscasto with the help of Matt Brown also produced the record which definatley blends all of Sal’s previous bands sounds into one doom filled ensemble.

“And Hell Will Follow Me” might be a little sluggish for your typical metal head. However for those Type O Negative fans out there looking for a similar sound look no further as “And Hell Will Follow” has that signature eerie sound the band was known for. Sludge rock mixed with a side of doom and a touch of techno samples will give fans of both Life of Agony and Type O Negative something to fill their ears with. Tracks such as “Serial Killer and “When The Crows Descend Upon You” were real stand outs for more as they had more of a hard rocking straight forward feel to them which when played live will surely conjure up a superior circle pit.

“And Hell Will Follow Me” showcases a very dark and gloomy sound that fans of both Abruscasto’s previous bands will surely enjoy.

Track Listing:
1.)    And Hell Will Follow Me
2.)    As Black As My Heart
3.)    To Die In Your Arms
4.)    Heroin Train
5.)    Devil In The Closet
6.)    Cracks In The Walls
7.)  Bad Dream
8.)    Bath In My Blood (Schizophrenia In Me)
9.)    Pill Head
10.)  Meet The Wolf
11.)  Serial Killer
12.)  When Crows Descend Upon You
13.)  Die Alone