Tuesday, April 30, 2013

War Horse Interview

Back a few weeks ago I went to Tennessee Performing Arts Center to see their 2013-2014 Broadway tour season announced. While I was there, I got the chance to set up an interview with the three gentlemen who puppeteered Joey during the amazing presentation.

They were gracious enough to take time out of their busy schedules to answer a few questions for me via email.

Thanks to Curtis Jordan (Head puppeteer), Isaac Woofter (Horse puppeteer) and Lute Breuer (Hind puppeteer).

So, without further delay.... the answers we've all been waiting for (or at least that I've been waiting for).

1.)    When people think of puppets, they typically thing of Sesame Street, the Muppets, or Avenue Q. What is the reaction of people when you tell them what kind of creature that you puppeteer?
Is it like Lion King? Is it heavy? Is it hot? How do you make the sounds? People are often surprised to hear we are visible and not wearing black.

2.)    Have you ever been a puppeteer before coming to War Horse? What kind of experience was that compared to War Horse?
Lute and Curtis both have experience in the Japanese puppetry style called Bunraku.  One similarity of both Buraku and War Horse is the use of 3 puppeteers.  One major difference is the head puppeteer in Bunraku leads everything while in War Horse all the positions share the responsibility.

3.)    How did you come to be a part of War Horse?
All three of us auditioned in a Workshop style audition that included actors, puppeteers, dancers and movement specialists.

4.)    As someone who has been around horses many times in my life, I must say that Joey is amazingly life like. Do you have experience with horses that helped when learning how to puppeteer Joey?
None of us had experience with horses before the show.  During our rehearsal process we watched videos, visited stables and listened to CD’s of horse sounds.

5.)    How did you learn to make sounds and expressions that make Joey seem so real?
There is no expert horse sound teacher, so we learned by a sometimes-embarrassing trial and error process.  In terms of expression, we just try to tell the story thinking about what Joey is feeling and how he needs to react at any given moment.

6.)    During the presentation at Tennessee Performing Arts Center, protecting your voices was something mentioned. Are you a singer? What types of things do you do to protect your voice both for your role puppeteering Joey, and in general?
None of us are trained singers but we all have actors voice training which helps us learn how to protect our vocal chords. Everyone finds their own way of warming up and seeing where is the best place to resonate the sounds.

7.)    How would you describe War Horse to someone who has never heard of the show?
 It’s unlike any other Broadway show in that the main character is an animal that isn’t anthropomorphized, which means he doesn’t speak. But the imaginative engagement is often greater from our audiences as they are required to suspend their disbelief and go on the journey with us. The main story takes places in Devon, England at the turn of the last century and follows the love story between a boy, Albert and his horse Joey who is sequestered into the First World War. We use the simplest of methods to tell the story, including some hopefully very realistic horse puppets.

8.)    What is your favorite part of being involved with War Horse?
Being part of a show like this and working with two other people to create one character makes each night different and engaging, not only for us but also for our audiences who we hope may come more than once.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Les Miserables

Another review for me, listed on BroadwayWorld.com. This is my review of Les Miserables at The Cumberland County Playhouse.

You can still see this magnificent production until May 3, 2013. Call 931-484-500 or visit their website HERE to purchase tickets. Don't miss this one!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Miracle Worker

A new little development in my theatre reviewing life: I'm now a contributor to BroadwayWorld.com in the Nashville region. I won't actually be covering much (if anything) for the Nashville area, but I do intend on covering things more in the Upper Cumberland. 

I will continue to post here nearly as often as I have been, but the difference will be that if I receive a ticket to see a show, the review will go on Broadway World. If I pay, I will still review here. 

Also, let me know what kind of things you'd like to see go up on Broadway World for some of our theaters in this area? Interviews? A weekly column of some sort? I'll take everything into consideration to see if I'm able to do it. 

First up is my review of The Miracle Worker, now playing at The Cumberland County Playhouse. Find it HERE.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Announcement of 2013-14 TPAC Broadway Series Season

Last night the Tennessee Performing Arts Center announced their 2013-2014 Broadway season. Every year they have an event that the public is invited to (free of charge; you just have to RSVP) in which they announce the shows, have food, champagne, and other fun items.

Usually I am unable to make the trip down for this event. I’d never been before this year, but it just so happened that I was going to be in Nashville yesterday, for an unrelated reason. I figured that if I was already going to be down there, I might as well stick around for said event.

Choosing to stay in Nashville for several more hours was worth it. The evening was packed with things I wasn’t expecting, and a chance to be one of the first people to know the coming season for TPAC.

The season was announced as follows:

Jersey Boys – October 29 thru November 3, 2013

We Will Rock You – November 12 thru 17, 2013

Ghost: The Musical – February 25 thru March 2, 2014

Sister Act: The Musical – March 11 thru 16, 2014

Million Dollar Quartet – May 6 thru 11, 2014

War Horse – June 3 – 8, 2014

The shows in their “add-ons” season are as follows:

Disney’s Beauty & the Beast – September 24-29, 2013

A Christmas Carol (in partnership with StudioTenn) – December 12 – 22, 2013

Wicked – March 26 – April 20, 2014

I Love Lucy: Live on Stage – January 14-26, 2013

In addition to the announcements were some pretty amazing things. The cast of Million Dollar Quartet performed, as did an actor from Jersey Boys. But the highlight of the evening was an appearance by Joey. In case you don’t know, Joey is the horse that is the main character in War Horse. He came out on stage and charmed the entire audience (myself included). Joey is enough reason to so see War Horse. We then got to see how Joey is operated by his puppeteers and were even given a lesson in making horse (horse-y??) sounds.

Afterwards, the reception in the lobby included a chance to visit with some of the actors, lots of food from local Nashville eateries, and even a few souvenirs from some of the shows coming to Nashville in the next season.

Which shows are you most looking forward to? What would you pass on? What would have rather seen? Personally, Jersey Boys and War Horse are on my list of “must-see” shows. I may make my way down for others, but those two are the two I’m most looking forward to.

Season tickets can be purchased or renewed right now and single tickets will go on sale at a later date. For a look at what’s coming in 2013-14, I’ve put the official TPAC trailer below!