Writer Nick Stafford's imaginative stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's 1982 coming-of-age novel for children, which has been physically expanded to fill the sprawling thrust of the Beaumont, arrives on Broadway after an acclaimed London premiere, where the tale of the boy separated from his beloved horse continues to run. War Horse will officially open April 14.
War Horse is directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris. Stafford (The Battle Royal, The Snow Queen) adapted Morpurgo's novel (originally told from the point of view of the horse) for the National Theatre production, which incorporates a series of life-sized equestrian puppets, which have the capability of strikingly lifelike movement. Each evocative creature (created by Handspring Puppet Company) are 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.
“It’s an astonishing achievement – that these three actors can create such a powerful presence onstage: an animal that seems sometimes to be completely out of control, that has a mind entirely of its own," puppet director Basil Jones told Playbill magazine.
LCT has aligned with the National Theatre and producer Boy Boyett to import the poignant drama.
War Horse won the 2007 Evening Standard, Critics' Circle and Laurence Olivier Awards for the set design by Rae Smith and Handspring Puppet Company; Toby Sedgwick received an Olivier Award for his choreography.
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 to run. Stephen Spielberg is also at work on a film of the novel, which will arrive in late 2011.