Thursday, March 27, 2014

Setting The Stage: Joey The WAR HORSE In Action, Opens to Rave Reviews!

On Tuesday, March 25th, Joey the War Horse made a special guest appearance in the Orpheum Theatre lobby.

Watch this fantastic footage to learn first-hand how Joey works, see how real horses from the Memphis Police Department Mounted Patrol Unit react to Joey, and meet the puppeteers!

Want more?  Check out these local articles, reviews, and newscasts:

Commercial Appeal Review - "War Horse is dazzling!"
Commercial Appeal Blog - An "impressively life-like creation"
Broadway World Memphis - "Some of the most ingenious stagecraft of our time"
Examiner Online - Awards five stars, a "must see!"
Commercial Appeal Feature
Memphis Flyer Feature
Memphis Flyer Intermission Impossible Blog
WMC-TV Action News 5
WREG-TV News Ch. 3
WATN-TV ABC Local 24

WAR HORSE plays through Sunday, March 30th at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, TN.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

President's Page: The Orpheum Centre Breaks Ground

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 is a date I will never forget.  When I look back at my 34 years of being with the Orpheum it's easy to recall certain milestones: the grand re-opening of the Orpheum after the first renovation in January 1984, for example.  Next there was the stage expansion in 1997 which allowed PHANTOM OF THE OPERA to be presented for the first time in the Mid-South.
But I must say that March 18th might have been one of the most important dates in our history.  On Tuesday we held the formal groundbreaking ceremony for our new Orpheum Centre for Performing Arts & Education.  I've spoken about the Centre several times on this blog, but for the first time I can tell you that the building is officially under construction. 

Once complete, the $14.5 million, 39,000 square foot, two-story Centre will be the central gathering place for students from pre-school through college.  This building will allow the Orpheum's education programs to serve over 100,000 students annually, representing our community's racial, religious, economic, and geographical diversity.  These students will come to the Centre to learn and to grow as individuals, preparing them for the exciting challenges ahead of them. 
Of course, the curriculum will be all about the arts, including performance, creativity, technical theatre, and audio and video instruction.  Then there's the added value of students working together as a team on a production.  Students will also learn about arts management as it pertains to marketing and social media, best business practices, fundraising, and many more subjects that they can use no matter where their future professional lives take them.
The numbers are amazing.  Tens of thousands of students every year will be exposed to all the life advantages that the arts provide.  I truly believe that the Centre will be a major force in preparing future generations to grow into a creative, problem-solving, and tolerant community, creating a better future for us all.

Pat Halloran
Orpheum President and CEO

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

War Horse Ticket Giveaway

Don't miss War Horse live on the Orpheum Stage March 25-30. Purchase tickets now or see below for details on how to enter to win two tickets to the opening night performance on Tuesday, March 25th.

This powerfully moving and imaginative drama, filled with stirring music and songs, is a show of phenomenal inventiveness that is currently playing to packed houses in London, New York and Toronto. At its heart are astonishing life-sized puppets created by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, that bring to life breathing, galloping, charging horses strong enough for men to ride.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

President's Page: Pat Halloran Preps for the Tonys

Kelli O'Hara &Steven Pasquale in
Photo by Joan Marcus.
It’s that time of year again in The Big Apple.  Some shows have run their course, as most eventually do with the exception of a blockbuster or two, while new shows are getting settled.  
Just like Oscar season, these new shows are competing heavily to get a little Tony Award buzz.  They are working hard to get their show seen by as many Tony voters and critics as they possibly can.  As a Tony voter myself, I am compelled to see as many shows as possible.  However, sometimes a show closes almost as quickly as it opened, and I am always afraid of wasting a valuable night at the theatre for a production that doesn’t have a chance to go the distance.  But overall I do my best to fairly give each of them a fair shot at getting my vote.  

So what did I think were winners on my most recent trip to Broadway?  Well, I have only seen four of this season's newest shows, but it's a start.  If you like Carole King, you will love BEAUTIFUL, The Carole King Musical.  As for THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (another musical), I was pleasantly surprised that I liked it as much as I did because as much as I enjoy Broadway actress Kelli O’Hara, I had a tough time seeing this movie as a musical.  I kept imagining Clint Eastwood singing, and it just did not work for me – that is, until I gave it a chance!  The Clint Eastwood role was valiantly handled by Steven Pasquale.  So BEAUTIFUL and BRIDGES are shows that I would highly recommend at this early juncture in the spring season.  

On the other hand, I wasn't very crazy about BRONX BOMBERS which was a play about the Yankees.  It closed two days after I saw the show, and I agreed – close it fast!  This "bomb" encouraged me to become a Mets fan as quickly as possible.

Jane Carr & Bryce Pinkham in
Photo by Joan Marcus.
The fourth show I have seen in this new crop is A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER.  To be honest, I am still thinking about this one.  I’m not sure I would recommend it, but at the same time I might even go back to see it again. 

I'll continue to share my Broadway show experiences as we approach the Tony Awards.  And keep an eye out for my Tony predictions when nominees are announced in the coming months!

Pat Halloran
President and CEO


Friday, March 7, 2014

The History of WAR HORSE & Why You Need to See It

WAR HORSE is a remarkable story of courage, loyalty, and friendship between a boy and his beloved horse Joey.  The tale began as a children's book of the same name by Michael Morpurgo and eventually became an Academy Award nominated movie by Steven Spielberg.  Relatively few stories have enjoyed the trifecta of entertainment outlets like WAR HORSE has, but neither page nor screen quite captures the remarkable character of Joey like that of the stage.

In the play, produced by London's National Theatre, Joey the War Horse is portrayed by a puppet - not the Jim Henson type, the Handspring Puppet Company type.  Handspring has taken the art of puppetry to a whole new level, and they saved some of their best creative juices to make Joey. 

It takes three puppeteers to bring Joey to life: the Head, the Heart, and the Hind.  Each puppeteer is responsible for what they call "an emotional indicator."  For example, the Head puppeteer operates Joey's entire head, but the emotional indicator is the ears.  When Joey is interested in something, his ears perk forward.  When he's frustrated or angry, he'll pin them back.  These emotional indicators help Joey communicate with the audience without words.

Still, one of the most impressive aspects of Joey is that he breathes.  This has practically become a trademark for Handspring Puppet Company.  They know that the believability of any puppet lies in its breath, and Joey's breathing makes him so real that he will have you eating out of his hoof within the first five minutes.  Or rather, he'll be eating out of your hand (he's a fan of sugar cubes).  Each of the three puppeteers work together to create Joey's breathing.  He snorts, he huffs, he gasps, and he heaves with the power of three men, the same amount of lung capacity that a real horse has.

When all of these elements come together you have a living, breathing, life-sized horse.  Joey perfectly balances artistic creativity with the audience's imagination.  As if that wasn't enough, Joey has a heartwarming story to tell that the whole family will enjoy!

Check out our YouTube playlist for WAR HORSE and see Joey in action.

WAR HORSE plays at The Orpheum Theatre March 25 - 30, 2014.  Recommended for ages 10 and up.