It takes a team of actors to bring War Horse to life

War Horse gallops into Spokane for four-day stay

Published On: Mar 05 2013 06:45:44 PM PST   Updated On: Mar 05 2013 06:49:36 PM PST
Jeremy Irvine in 'War Horse' IB2
SPOKANE, Wash. -

War Horse started as a children's novel, has since appeared on the silver screen and Broadway and is opening Tuesday night at the INB Performing Arts Center for a limited engagement.

The star of the show is Joey, a half draft half thoroughbred that comes to life on stage. The magic behind what these puppeteers do to accomplish that is something you just have to see to believe.

"War Horse is a story of friendship and love between a boy, Albert, and his horse Joey," actor Adam Cunningham said. "The horse is sent off to war and Albert heads off to war to bring him home."

To bring Joey to life on stage it takes three people to operate the puppet.

"It's a story about friendship and love and it takes an incredible amount, a large cast, twenty separate kinds of puppets in the show to bring this huge story to life," Cunningham said.

And the more you see the actors put  Joey through his paces on stage as a horse the less you see him as a puppet, due in no small part to the work of the actors behind the horse.

"It takes a long time to learn horse behavior itself and to learn to work in a life-size horse puppet with two other puppeteers," Cunningham said.

"When you feel a certain way the horse will begin to show that on the outside," Harlan Bengel, who works Joey's front legs, said.

"I hadn't begun doing the show yet, I initially saw the puppet and thought to myself, 'This is the coolest thing I have ever seen," he added.

"It's really a sweeping epic that is great for the entire family ages 10 through the rest of your life. People are going to love it," Cunningham said.

If you weren't able to get tickets to the Tuesday night performance, Joey and rest of the cast of War Horse will be on stage at the INB Performing Arts Center through Friday.