Ask any child (of any age) what the most beautiful of animals there are, and 9 out of 10 times, the answer of course, is a horse. In Black Beauty, now in its run at the Lovelace Theatre space at the Wallis Center for Performing Arts, the Red Bridge Arts & Traverse Theatre Company team up to do a mighty fine blend of pantomime, storytelling, song, dance and puppetry. Of particular note is when the two lead actors climb under a furry horse suit to create a four legged creature the audience comes to love and cheer on. Created by Andy Manley, Andy Cannon,(the 2 are much like Abbot Costello) and Shona Reppe, this show is filled with plenty of audience (children) interaction, eliciting giggles, love, laughs and guffaws by the minute. Those who’ve read the classic book, seen UK’s classic TV show, and just generally enjoy horse play , from Mr Ed….to the Wonder Horse …War Horse…Equus…Donkey in Shrek…and My Little Pony… will be assured of a rollicking good time, watching this show, which delighted audiences in Europe and won three highly coveted Edinburgh Fringe Festival awards.
The music, dance and lively charades make this show a 90 minute ‘horsey horsebox house of fun.’ Andy and Andy are quite the naturals when bringing out audience members’ (particularly kids of all ages) reactions and suggestions, especially when it comes to the question of popularity and job demand between horses and cows. One reassuring, comforting line of dialogue goes like this: “to never be sold… I have nothing to fear…and so my story ends and all of my troubles are over…”
Black Beauty is indeed a five star triumph and a modern re-emerging of the original book. The children in audience of the opening matinee I attended were completely mesmerized from show’s start to finish; they especially liked the dancing horse with uncanny rhythm. The fun loving four legged friend let audience members pet and play; offering up a tune of the classic “Moo-n River.” Practically not a dry eye in the theatre but rather bright eyes and bushy tailed, as they listened to words set to the brilliant art of anoematepia, and followed the clever antics of the horse in carriage , placing bets all the way to the horse auction . One song , with repetitive sing song lyrics, akin to the Passover Seder’s chanting of chad Gadya, included lyrics such as “to the river … to fetch the dog…was my personal fave 🌳😇. The music and dance, combined with physical slapstick humor, makes for an energetic scene onstage , encouraging children to hop, skip & jump their imaginary way to transforming a depressed “Eeyore” like Hamish the horse into a vibrant, message giving vibrant being. Catchy lines include “I’m a horse buff…trying to make ends meet,” with puns so memorable like “we can’t have a yard sale if we don’t have a yard.”
So put your boots on your hoofs and gallop on over to the Wallis for a most colorful standout “Black Beauty.”
Through May 5
Saturdays and Sundays 2 and 5 pm
Wallis Annenberg Theatre, Lovelace Studio
9390 Santa Monica Blvd