PHOTO EXCLUSIVE: A Two-Show Day With War Horse Actor-Puppeteer Leah Hofmann

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04 Jan 2013

War Horse will end its acclaimed Broadway run Jan. 6. In August, Leah Hofmann, a member of the hard-working cast of actors and puppeteers in the show, offered Playbill.com readers an unprecedented look backstage, behind the scenes and inside the puppets themselves.



"It was love at first sight when I met Joey the Horse a year ago at my initial audition," says Hofmann, who comes from a musical theatre and dance background. "For nine months, I have had the honor of sharing this iconic tale eight times a week, along with 36 immensely talented cast members, including 12 other horse puppeteers."

"As the first female head puppeteer in the New York production, I work/play alongside actors, dancers, physical performers, musicians and puppeteers, all seamlessly working together to share the same story."

"With the help of my cast, including my trusty horse teammates Isaac Woofter and Tom Lee, here is an exclusive photo journal of a two-show day here at War Horse. Please enjoy our photo album, and come visit Joey at Lincoln Center."



View the Entire Photo Gallery
A rare view of inside the "Joey" puppet with Miss Jeslyn Kelly as the hind of Joey. Jeslyn and I are the only two female horse puppeteers here in New York. Just your modern-day Rosie the Riveters.



This marks Hofmann's Broadway debut. Theatre credits include Young Frankenstein, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Sunset Boulevard, The Producers, Camelot, La Cage aux Folles, 42nd Street, My One and Only and Gypsy. She holds an MPT from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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Andrew Durand, who was also seen in The Burnt Part Boys, London's Umbrellas of Cherbourgh and the Powerhouse staging of The Nightingale, plays the central role of Albert Narracott.

Also featured in the War Horse ranks are David Manis (as Arthur Narracott), Stephen James Anthony (as Billy Narracott), Andy Murray (as Ted Narracott), David Lansbury (as Hauptmann Müller), Harlan Bengel, Toby Billowitz, Lute Breuer, Hunter Canning, Anthony Cochrane, Ben Horner, Leah Hofmann, Tessa Klein, Nat McIntyre, Geoffrey Murphy, Andy Murray, Tommy Schrider, Jack Spann and Katrina Yaukey.

The cast of War Horse also includes Stephen James Anthony, Alyssa Bresnahan, Richard Crawford, Sanjit de Silva, Joel Reuben Ganz, Ben Graney, Alex Hoeffler, Brian Lee Huynh, Jeslyn Kelly, Tom Lee, Jonathan Christopher MacMillan, Jonathan David Martin, David Pegram, Kate Pfaffl, Jude Sandy, Hannah Sloat, Zach Villa, Elliot Villar, Enrico D. Wey, Isaac Woofter and Madeleine Rose Yen.

War Horse began Broadway previews March 15, 2011, and 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 Michael Morpurgo's 1982 children's novel for the stage.

Lincoln Center Theater aligned with the National Theatre of Great Britain and producer Bob Boyett to import War Horse. It continues to play a celebrated West End run. A U.S. national tour and international productions will launch shortly.

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. Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of the novel  debuted in December.

Visit WarHorseonBroadway.