Holy cow. That’s all you get because War Horse left me speechless. It runs through Sunday – do yourself a favor and GO SEE IT!

Okay fine, I’ll tell you more. It was too good to keep to myself! Tuesday night I had the pleasure of attending opening night of War Horse, the Artist Series’ latest show to take on the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Jacksonville. They’ve been bringing highly impressive Broadway and off-Broadway performances to the River City for the past several years, and their lineup continues to improve (which I didn’t think was possible.)

As I mentioned in my War Horse Giveaway post, 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.  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. And oh yeah, it was the winner of five 2011 Tony® Awards including Best Play.

Going in, I knew it was going to be a tear-jerker and a goose bump-enducer, but I didn’t realize how blown away I was going to be. The story line was fantastic and yes, brought tears to my eyes quite a few times. The acting was incredible. I felt like I went back in time to 1914 and was actually witnessing these events firsthand. No cheesy show tunes or “drama actors” – this was movie quality or better.

But the most impressive thing, to me, was how lifelike the horses were. If I wasn’t sitting ten rows from the stage I think I would have thought they were real. The way the move, their mannerisms, their sounds … all so realistic. I used to ride horses and have always had a soft spot for them, and seeing a puppet horse come to life before my very eyes took my breath away. How do they move, you ask? Several puppeteers work in unison to control the horse’s every move: from their legs and head to their tail and sounds. And people actually ride the puppet horses in the show! Think how in shape and in sync those guys controlling the horse have to be! Take 30 seconds and watch this video clip to hear just how lifelike the horse sounds. It’s unreal.

I’ve never been to a show that has the entire audience on its feet before the final scene even comes to an end. Except War Horse. Take my advice: words, pictures and videos do not do this show justice. If you have an opportunity to see it, whether it’s here in Jacksonville or in another city near you, go see it. You won’t regret it!

The show runs through Sunday, February 23 in Jacksonville. Tickets for War Horse start at only $32.00 and are available at the Artist Series Box Office between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, at (904) 442-BWAY (2929) and online 24/7 on their website.  Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more at (904) 442-2947 or groupsales@fscj.edu.

War Horse Performance Schedule at Jacksonville’s Times-Union Center:
Tuesday, February 18th at 7:30PM
Wednesday, February 19th at 7:30PM
Thursday, February 20th at 7:30PM
Friday, February 21st at 8PM
Saturday, February 22nd at 2PM and 8PM
Sunday, February 23rd at 1:30PM and 7PM

Disclaimer: These tickets were provided to me by the Artist Series of Jacksonville.  I am a member of the Artist Series’ Professional Women Theater Ambassador Program and am compensated with tickets to select shows in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own.


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