Sunday, 30 December 2012

War Horse preview, Opening Dec 31, 2012

Stand by for a review of War Horse after the opening of the show on Dec 31, 2012.

A version of this preview article appears in Herald Sun news section on Monday, Dec 31, 2012 on p 14.

The National Theatre of Great Britain and Global Creatures bring the multiple Tony and Olivier Award-winning War Horse, to Melbourne, opening on New Year's Eve, 2012. 

Australian Cast of War Horse with Joey, the horse; Photo by Joe Calleri

 If sales are any indication, Melburnians are stampeding for tickets to the Australian production of War Horse, a play about a boy separated from his beloved horse, Joey, during World War One.  

After smashing London and New York box office records, War Horse has now broken the record for largest sales of any show in the history of Arts Centre Melbourne. This matches the record-breaking ticket sales in London and New York.

Chris Harper, producer for the National Theatre of Great Britain, describes the UK sales as phenomenal. ”It has the highest selling advance sales for any show in London.”
The stars of this epic, emotionally charged play by National Theatre of Great Britain and Global Creatures, are the startling, life-sized horse puppets that appear to breathe and pulsate with power and grace. 

Harper claims that War Horse is the Queen’s favourite show and that she came on a private visit to see the show, sitting with the rest of the audience in a very low key visit. It started with Princess Anne then... in the best tradition of word of mouth, they (the royal family) all came."

This would explain why, during the Queen’s Jubilee Flotilla in 2012, Joey reared and saluted Her Maj from the National Theatre on the banks of the Thames.

Never perform with children or animals, says the old stage adage. Do puppets count? Those actors must be quaking in their boots.
By Kate Herbert Dec 30, 2012 

Joey the horse with puppeteers. Photo by Joe Calleri

Stage adaptation by Nick Stafford, based on novel by Michael Morpurgo (War Horse)
By The National Theatre of Great Britain and Global Creatures
Puppetry by Handspring Puppet Company
State Theatre, Melbourne Arts Centre
Opening night: Monday Dec 31, 2012
Melbourne Season: Dec 23, 2012 to March 3, 2013
Sydney: Lyric Theatre, from March 16, 2013
Brisbane: Lyric Theatre from July 6, 2013


Directors: Marianne Elliott & Tom Morris
Director, Australian production: Drew Barr
Puppetry:Handspring Puppet Company (Adrian Kohler & Basil Jones)
Music: Adrian Sutton
Songmaker: Tams
Sound: Christopher Shutt
Lighting: Paule Constable
Design: Rae Smith
Video design: Leo Warner & Mark Grimmer


James Bell                                     Billy / Ludwig
Nicholas Bell                                Arthur / Sgt Thunder
Ian Bliss                                          Ted /Strauss
Adam Booth                                 Stewart /Heine
Mark Constable                          Carter / Klebb / Manfred
Andre de Vanny                         David
Mischana Dellora-Cornish     Ensemble Girl / Baby Joey / Annie Gilbert
Dave Evans                                   Songman
Cody Fern                                      Albert
Natasha Herbert                        Rose
Anna Houston                             Ensemble Woman / Matron Callaghan
Belinda Jombwe                        Emilie
Rory Kelly                                      Ensemble Boy / Baby Joey
Drew Livingston                         Acting Ensemble Swing
Dale March                                   Nicholls / Paddy/ Dr Schweyk / Heine
Kenneth Moraleda                    Ensemble Man / Vet Martin
Emma Palmer                              Paulette / Baby Joey
Gareth Reeves                            Klausen / Allan
John Thompson                          Songman
Andrew Tighe                              Priest / Friedrich
Karlis Zaid                                     Bone / Fine / Schnabel


Nick Barlow                                  Joey – Head
Kailah Cabanas                            Joey/Topthorn - Head
Michael Cullen                           Topthorn – Heart
Nick Eaton                                     Joey – Heart
Grant Foulkes                              Joey/Topthorn - Heart
 Lincoln Hall                                   Topthorn – Hind
Kiera Lyons                                    Joey/Topthorn
– Hind
Ben McIvor                                    Joey/Topthorn
– Hind
Sarah Nelson                               Joey - Hind
John Shearman                           Joey/Topthorn
Michael Wahr                             Joey/Topthorn – Head
Drew Wilson                                Joey/Topthorn

War Horse Facts and Figures
 (February 2012)

·       War Horse received its World Premiere at the National Theatre on 9 October 2007 and played in the Olivier for 92 performances until 14 February 2008 and was seen by over 104,000 people.

·       War Horse returned to the National Theatre for a second run playing from 10 September 2008 – 18 March 2009 for a total of 114 performances and was seen by a further 130,000 people.

·       War Horse transferred to the West End in 2009 with its first performance at the New London Theatre on 28 March 2009. War Horse is currently booking until 16 February 2013 at the New London Theatre.

·       In February 2011 the 1 millionth patron to see the production in London met with writer Michael Morpurgo and was photographed with horses Joey and Topthorn.

·       In February 2012 almost 1.3 million people had seen War Horse in London, with over 1.7 million seeing the production worldwide.

·       War Horse has been seen by The Queen, Prince Phillip, Princess Anne, Prince William and Prince Harry as well as other famous faces including Michael Caine, Rupert Everett, Ethan Hawke, James Earl Jones, Tommy Lee Jones, Keira Knightley, Annie Lennox, Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren, Miranda Richardson, Alan Rickman, Meg Ryan, Will Smith, Steven Spielberg, Hilary Swank, Alec Baldwin, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Susan Sarandon, Sharon Stone, Diana Ross, Diane Keaton, William Shatner, Barbara Walters, Hugh Jackman, Ricki Lake, Kate Winslet, George Lucas, Blythe Danner, Joan Rivers, John McEnroe, Queen Latifah, Martin Sheen, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Billy Crystal, Sting, Madonna, Guy Ritchie, Angela Lansbury and Elaine Stritch.

·       The New York production of War Horse opened on 14 April 2011 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center.

·       Having seen the show at the National Theatre, Steven Spielberg turned War Horse into a    film starring Jeremy Irvine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston and Emily Watson. The film premiered in January 2012.

·       A further production opened in February 2012 at the Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto, with a US tour scheduled to start in Los Angeles in June 2012.

·       War Horse is due to open in Melbourne at the end of 2012 at the Arts Centre’s State Theatre.

·       The puppets in War Horse were created by Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones of South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, based in Cape Town.  They are made of cane and stretched georgette and are operated by puppeteers.

·       War Horse has 18 puppets, including horses Joey and Topthorn, as well as a goose, two swallows and two crows. 

·       War Horse runs for approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes including one interval

·       Suitable for 10 years plus.

UK Awards War Horse has won

·       2007 Evening Standard Award for Set Design - Rae Smith and Handspring Puppet Company
·       2007 Critics’ Circle Award for Set Design - Rae Smith and Handspring Puppet Company
·       2007 Laurence Olivier Awards for Set Design - Rae Smith and Handspring Puppet Company
·       2007 Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Theatre Choreographer - Toby Sedgwick

US Awards War Horse has won

·       2011 Outer Critics’ Circle Award for Outstanding New Broadway Play
·       2011 Outer Critics’ Circle Award for Outstanding Director of a Play – Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris
·       2011 Outer Critics’ Circle Award Outstanding Lighting Design – Paule Constable
·       2011 Outer Critics’ Circle Special Achievement Award – Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler
·       2011 Drama Desk Special Award for Thrilling Stagecraft
·       2011 World Theatre Award - Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence -Seth Numrich
·       2011 Audience Awards Favourite Play
·       2011 Drama League Awards - Distinguished Production of a Play
·       2011 Special Tony Award - Handspring Puppet Company
·       2011 Tony Award – Best Play
·       2011 Tony Award for Best Director of a Play - Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris
·       2011 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Play – Rae Smith
·       2011 Tony Award for Best Lighting Design of a Play – Paule Constable
·       2011 Tony Award for Best Sound Design of a Play – Christopher Shutt

Review will be posted on Dec 31 or Jan 1.

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