Original West End Production of War Horse Replaces Live Musicians
By Mark Shenton
The original West End production of War Horse, which continues to run at the New London Theatre after transferring from the National Theatre, where it premiered in October 2007, has made its five live musicians redundant.
A spokesperson for the National Theatre told Playbill.com, "The vast majority of the instrumental music in the show has, from the start, been on tape (wholly so in the case of the seven productions that have followed on from the London production, including on Broadway), and the musicians in London have always played on top of the recorded music. And of course there are lots of songs in the play, led by the Songperson who plays and sings live, as do the cast of 38 actors in the choral numbers. It remains a very musical production."
According to a story in the U.K. trade paper The Stage, the decision to replace the musicians was supported by the show's creative team. The National also told The Stage that it used 25 percent of its annual £1 million music budget on the London production of War Horse and that this was not a "good use of money." The musicians were based off stage for the majority of the show, and were only visible to the audience for about two minutes of the production.
War Horse transferred to the New London Theatre March 28, 2009, prior to an official opening April 3, where it has continued to run ever since.
The production, which is directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris and presented in association with Handspring Puppet Company, 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.
The story concerns Joey, young Albert's beloved horse, who is sold to the cavalry and shipped to France at the outbreak of the First World War. He's 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 treacherous mission to find him and bring him home.
To book tickets, contact the National Theatre box office at 020 7452 3000 or visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/warhorse.
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