The National Theatre production of War Horse, which blends naturalistic storytelling and breathtaking puppetry, premiered on Broadway March 15, 2011. Writer Nick Stafford's imaginative stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's 1982 coming-of-age novel for children arrived on Broadway after an acclaimed London premiere, where the production continues to run. War Horse officially opened on Broadway to critical praise April 14, 2011.
War Horse is directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris. The production incorporates 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.
Lincoln Center Theater aligned with the National Theatre of Great Britain and producer Bob Boyett to import War Horse. The production earned five 2011 Tony Awards, including Best Play, Best Direction, Best Scenic Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design. A Special Tony Award was also presented to the Handspring Puppet Company.
The Toronto production of War Horse, which began performances in February 2012, also ends its extended engagement Jan. 6. A North American tour continues. Future productions are planned in Australia, Berlin, as well as a tour of the U.K. and Ireland.
|photo by Paul Kolnik|
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. Stephen Spielberg's film adaptation of the novel debuted in December 2011.