Brooklyn's St. Ann’s Warehouse welcomes back theatre company Kneehigh and its former artistic co-director, Emma Rice, for the New York premiere of 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips. The show is a stage adaptation of War Horse author Michael Morpurgo’s book detailing the true story of the African-American soldiers who were sent to the shores of England to rehearse for the Normandy invasion during WWII.
946 takes its title from the number of casualties sustained during the pre-D-Day invasion, and is adapted for the stage by Morpurgo and Rice. The show features a band onstage performing original and period music, and though it draws on adult themes, the production is suitable for children over seven.
The New York premiere will officially open March 20 and is scheduled to play through April 9.
The story is told from the perspective of a little British girl living in Slapton, a village that was scarcely touched by the war before the arrival of the American soldiers.
Morpurgo, who wrote the book for The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, learned the history of the D-Day rehearsals when he was having lunch at a pub in Slapton and noticed photos of black American soldiers in World War II uniforms. “Imagine how it must have been for the U.S. soldiers, far from home, knowing what lay ahead, what they were exercising for. Imagine what the villagers and farmers felt about these friendly invaders, who spoke and behaved so differently. Imagine what the children must have thought when they saw their first black American soldier,” Morpurgo recalls in a production statement.
The international cast includes Nandi Bhebhe, Emma Darlow, Ncuti Gatwa, Kyla Goodey, Chris Jared, Craig Johnson, Katy Owen, Kneehigh founder Mike Shepherd, Adam Sopp, and Akpore Uzoh.
946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips features a score made up of original music by composer Stu Barker, and period music, played live onstage by the company, led by Seamus Carey and Pat Moran, who also serves as music director. The production also has set and costume design by Lez Brotherston, lighting design by Malcolm Rippeth, sound design by Simon Baker, and choreography by Emma Rice and Etta Murfitt.
Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased at stannswarehouse.org, (718) 254-8779 or (866) 811-4111.