Thursday, December 18, 2008
Theater review: Donkey in Horse Heaven
All proceeds from this show and an accompanying silent auction will go toward a medical fund for Brittany Stene, an actress with Teatro delle Muse who's battling cancer.
What in the world is a donkey doing in Horse Heaven? This is the question on everyone's mind in Teatro delle Muse's current offering, Donkey in Horse Heaven, by Rick A. Elina, theatre critic for the North Dallas Gazette. An unassuming donkey named Horace (Hope Henderson) finds himself in not just any old corner of Horse Heaven, but in the "seventh level," among the creme de la creme of the upper echelons of horsehood. The famed and lauded horses who inhabit this realm are a veritable "who's who" of horses. Of course you can imagine their reaction when a lowly donkey enters their "hallowed hall."
We learn of the great contributions to history of such Horse-Heaven luminaries as Nelson (Mardi Robinson), Traveller (Shelby-Marie Sloan), Man O'War (Jay Reavis), and and of course, the "spirited" Blackjack (Rachel Southworth). Though their names may not be household, or horsehold, now, but you will remember these noble creatures long after the curtain falls. As the story unfolds, each of these respected and honored equines one by one recounts his exploits and valor. This only serves to raise even more doubt as to why a donkey would be in Horse Heaven. And the most doubtful of all is poor Horace. The petit Ms. Henderson plays well against the older actors. This contrast in stature with the other horses fuels the underlying theme of self-doubt and heaven-worthy qualifications. But in the end, kindness and acceptance trumps all.
In fact each cast member holds their own, ably portraying a selection of horses (and donkey) with a wide range of personalities and styles. Cam Wenrich as Trigger adds comedic moments that work well as a foil to the more serious horses. As scenic designer, Sarah VC Henderson creatively explores the idea of just what might constitute heaven for a horse, giving the angelic equines plenty of space to do what they love: eat, roll in the dirt, and play games. As director, Henderson has struck just the right balance of humor, rivalry, and tenderness with this carefully crafted script. The lighting design, by Jason Fehrm, superbly illuminated the celestial realm.
Making this production all the more poignant during this holiday season is the fact that it is a benefit for the young Brittany Stene, an actress, singer and dancer who has been active with Teatro delle Muse from its first production. Brittany has been battling cancer this year, and all proceeds from this show and an accompanying silent auction will go toward her medical fund.
The opening performance audience enjoyed an additional treat in a warm-up turn on piano and vocals by Louisiana musician Talmadge Wells. This opening act was hard to follow, but the talented cast was up to the challenge and kept everyone rapt to the final revelatory moments.
Donkey in Horse Heaven continues through December 21. Tickets may be purchased online at www.TeatrodelleMuse.us or by calling 1-866-811-4111.
Pegasus News Content partner - North Dallas Gazette