Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

War Horse
Palace Theatre

War Horse started its life as a novel in 1983. Michael Morpurgo wrote the story of a boy and his horse, which is laced with sentimentality and has echoes of the boy-and-his-dog books that were once so popular (think of the Lassie series).

War Horse deals with a young teenager, Albert Narracott, whose father buys Joey, a horse, at an auction. The family needed a horse that could pull the plow. But Joey had good blood lines and didn't want to be trained to pull a plow. Albert and Joey become best friends.

At the start of World War I, the English military bought horses to help with the war effort. Albert's father sold Joey to the military, breaking Albert's heart. Albert attempted to join the military to be with his horse, but he was rejected because he was too young. The story takes the horse through battles to peace time, when an old, worn out Joey returns to Albert.

When War Horse opened on Broadway the production received five Tony Awards: Best Play, Scenic Design, Lighting Design, Sound Design and Directors. A special Tony was awarded to the Handspring Puppet Company, which helped make the horses so life like. Certainly, a story of a poor family in England and scenes of war does not call for bright costumes. However, everyone seems dressed in the same dark colors, making identification of the characters by color impossible.

The audience favorite here is Andrew May, who plays Captain Friedrich Muller. May worked in Cleveland with the Great Lakes Theater for a number of years. He is known for his ability to play any type of role, but he is usually cast as the handsome, romantic interest. He left Cleveland to make his way to Broadway. On opening night the Cleveland audience cheered for May and for the performers who managed the horse puppets.

This is an excellent production of a wonderful story. The battle scenes may be too much for some children. But the moment when a boy and his horse are reunited brings tears of joy to everyone who has owned a pet.

The touring production of War Horse, at the Palace Theatre in PlayhouseSquare through April 21, 2013. Ticket Information: 216-241-6000. The production moves to the Ohio Theatre in Columbus, Ohio, for a run April 23 through April 28, 2013. For more information on the tour, visit

The next show in the Cleveland Broadway Series will be Guys and Dolls, May 1 through June 30, 2013, in the Hanna Theatre.

Joey as a foal: Mairi Babb, Catherine Gowl, Nick Lamedica
Joey: Jon Hoche, Adam Cunningham, Aaron Haskell
Tophorn: Jon Riddleberger, Patrick Osteen, Jessica Krueger
Coco: Brian Robert Burns, Gregory Manley
Heine: Grayson DeJesus, Jason Loughlin
Song Woman (Instrumental): Megan Loomis
Song Man (Vocal) John Milosich
Lieutenant James Nicholls: Jason Loughlin
Arthur Narracott: Brian Keane
Billy Narracott: Michael Wyatt Cox
Albert Narracott: Alex Morf
Ted Narracott: Todd Cerveris
Chapman Carter: Chad Jennings
Allan: Michael Stewart Allen
Thomas Bone: Mat Hostetler
John Greig: Brian Robert Burns
Rose Narracott: Angela Reed
Priest:Andrew May
Captain Charles Stewart: Grayson DeJesus
Sergeant Thunder: Brian Keane
Private David Taylor: Brandon Drea
Paulette:Catherine Gowl
Private Schnabel: Mat Hostetler
Captain Fredrich Muller: Andrew May
Private Klausen: Michael Stewart Allen
Doctor Schweyk: Jason Loughlin
Colonel Strauss: Todd Cerveris
Sergeant Fine: Mat Hostetler
Corporal Klebb:Chad Jennings
Emilie: LaVita Shaurice
Paddy: Jason Loughlin
Manfred: Chad Jennings
Ludwig: Michael Wyatt Cox
Matron Callaghan: Catherine Gowl
Annie Gilbert: Mairi Babb
Veterinary Officer Martin: Brooks Brantly
Goose: Jessica Krueger
Villagers of Devon and Soldiers: Members of the Company
based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo
Adapted by Nick Stafford
In association with Handspring Puppet Company
Director of Movement and Horse choreography: Toby Sedgwick
Puppet Captain: Christopher Mai
Animation and projection design: 59 Productions
Sets, costumes and drawings: Rae Smith
Original lighting: Paule Constable
Additional lighting and adaptation: Karen Spagn
Music: Adrian Sutton
Song Maker: John Tams
Sound: Christopher Shutt
Fight Director: Tom Schall
US Tour Director: Bijan Sheibani

- David Ritchey

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