Photos: Life-size puppet star from ‘War Horse’ visits Utah

First Published      Last Updated Oct 09 2013 03:00 pm

Video Courtesy of Ian Simpson | Magicspace Entertainment

Joey, the life-sized puppet from the hit stage production "War Horse," visited students at Cottonwood High School on Tuesday and made an appearance at The Complex in Salt Lake City.

Puppeteers with the Handspring Puppet Company offered a glimpse into how they bring the puppet horses to life on stage for "War Horse," which will be coming to the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City on April 22-27. Broadway Across America Utah offered these figures about Joey:

• Joey weighs 120 pounds and was made by 14 people. Its frame is mostly cane, soaked, bent and stained.

• An aluminum frame along the spine, lined partly with leather for comfort, allows the horse to be ridden.

• Stretched, hosiery-like Georgette fabric makes up the "skin" beneath the frame.

• A puppeteer at the head controls the ears and head; one in the heart controls breathing and front legs; a third in the hind controls the tail and back legs.

• A harness connects the puppet's and puppeteer's spines so his or her movements become the breathing of the horse.

• The tail and ears are moveable instead of the lips or eyelids, because that's how horses usually express themselves.

• Two levers connected with bicycle brake cables control the leather ears.

• The puppet, just under 10 feet long and about 8 feet tall, has about 20 major joints. Vertical levers curl the knees and lift the hooves.

• The neck is made of carbon fiber glass for flexibility.

• The eyes are black color behind clear resin so light refracts through them.

• The right hind lever moves the tail up and down; the left hind lever, left to right; moved together, it spirals.

• The hair in the mane and tail is made of Tyvek, a plastic-like paper.