Established in 1941, the USO is a private non-profit organization that supports U.S. troops through programming that boosts morale and provides welfare and recreational services. Net proceeds from the Nov. 11 performance of War Horse will go specifically toward some 3,000 troops and families of the New York National Guard being deployed through the end of the year to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The extraordinary success of War Horse is in no small part due to the very resonant chord that its powerful story, about the effect of war and the sacrifices it demands, strikes with today's audiences. We could not let Veteran's Day pass without in some way acknowledging today's military and we’re very proud to contribute to the USO's efforts to provide much needed services to our New York area troops as they go off to Afghanistan and Iraq," said Lincoln Center Theater artistic director Andre Bishop and executive producer Bernard Gersten in a statement.
War Horse premiered in London in 2007 and officially opened on Broadway April 14 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. Lincoln Center Theater aligned with the National Theatre of Great Britain and producer Boy Boyett to import the acclaimed drama. It continues to play a celebrated West End run. The Broadway production earned five 2011 Tony Awards, including Best Play and Best Direction.
It is directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris. Nick Stafford (The Battle Royal, The Snow Queen) adapted Morpurgo's 1982 children's novel.
War Horse features a series of life-sized equestrian puppets, which have the capability of strikingly lifelike movement. Each evocative creature (created by Handspring Puppet Company) is manipulated by an on-stage crew of three puppeteers who give life to a horse named Joey, as he grows from a skittish foal into a full-grown horse. Here's how LCT bills the work: "At the outbreak of World War I, Joey, young Albert's beloved horse, is sold to the cavalry and shipped to France. Joey is soon caught up in enemy fire, and fate takes him on an extraordinary odyssey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man's land. But Albert cannot forget Joey and, still not old enough to enlist, he embarks on a mission to find his horse and bring him home."
The production features designs by Rae Smith and original puppet design and construction by Adrian Kohler, lighting by Paule Constable, and movement and horse choreography by Toby Sedgwick. The puppetry directors are Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler; video designers are Leo Warner and Mark Grimmer; and songs are by John Tams. The production has music by Adrian Sutton and sound by Christopher Shutt.
War Horse began performances in October 2007 at the National's Olivier Theatre where it continued in repertory for a sold-out run through March 2009. The production transferred to the West End's New London Theatre March 28, 2009, where it continues. Stephen Spielberg is also at work on a film of the novel, which will arrive in late 2011.
View highlights from the show: