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War Horse - the theatrical event of the year opens this week

WAR HORSE -- the unforgettable theatrical event from the National Theatre of Great Britain, based on Michael Morpurgo’s beloved novel – opens this Friday for a strictly limited season.

This extraordinary production will play at The Civic, Auckland, until Sunday, 14 July with no further extension possible. Tickets from Ticketmaster.

A remarkable story of courage, loyalty and friendship, War Horse tells the story of a young boy called Albert and his horse Joey, set against the backdrop of the First World War. This powerfully moving and imaginative drama is a show of phenomenal inventiveness, filled with stirring music and songs, featuring ground-breaking puppetry work by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, which brings breathing, galloping horses to life on stage.

The winner of more than 25 international awards, including the Tony Award® for Best Play on Broadway, War Horse received its world premiere on 9 October 2007 at the National Theatre where it played for two seasons before opening at the New London Theatre in March 2009. Since then, War Horse has been seen by eight million people worldwide in 98 cities in 11 countries, including productions on Broadway, in Toronto and Berlin, with touring productions in the UK and Ireland, North America, the Netherlands, Belgium and China.

At the outbreak of World War One, Joey, young Albert’s beloved horse, is sold to the Cavalry and shipped to France. He’s soon caught up in enemy fire, and fate takes him on an extraordinary journey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man’s land. Albert, who remained on his parents’ Devon farm, cannot forget Joey. Though still not old enough to enlist he embarks on a treacherous mission to find him and bring him home.

Michael Morpurgo said: ‘I’m thrilled that Joey, the War Horse and his great team from the National Theatre, are touring to New Zealand, taking their show all over the world to places War Horse has not been seen before. I am so pleased this is happening; that so many more people have the chance to enjoy this unique theatrical event. Steady boy, steady Joey. Trot on!'

War Horse is directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, designed by Rae Smith, with puppet direction, design and fabrication by Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler for Handspring Puppet Company. Lighting is by Paule Constable, movement and horse choreography by Toby Sedgwick, with video design by Leo Warner and Mark Grimmer for 59 Productions. The songmaker is John Tams, with music by Adrian Sutton and sound by Christopher Shutt.

Katie Henry is the UK & International Tour Director and Charlotte Peters is the Associate Director. Craig Leo and Matthew Forbes are the Associate Puppetry Directors. They are joined by Resident Director, Charlie Kenber and Resident Puppetry Director, Gareth Aled.

The 34-strong cast includes Kofi Aidoo-Appiah (Topthorn head), Rianna Ash (Joey head), Huw Blainey (Geordie), Matthew Booth (Allan/Brandt/Manfred), Jo Castleton (Rose) Jonathan Cobb (Goose/Schnabel), Colin Connor (Ted), Ben Cutler (Nicholls), Khalid Daley (David/Baby Joey), Zoe Halliday (Topthorn hind), Danny Hendrix (Billy/Heine/Klebb), Alex Hooper (Joey heart), Lewis Howard (Joey/Topthorn heart), William Ilkley (Arthur), Michael Jean-Marain (Topthorn heart), Andrew Keay (Joey/Topthorn hind), Clive Keene (Greig/ Sergeant Fine), Natalie Kimmerling (Emilie), Kiran Landa (Paulette/Baby Joey), Mark Matthews (Joey hind), Scott Miller (Albert), Katherine Moraz (Annie Gilbert), Ben Murray (Songperson), Christopher Naylor (Friedrich/Priest), Samuel Parker (Joey/Topthorn hind), Tom Quinn (Joey/Topthorn head), Gareth Radcliffe (Carter/Strauss), Domonic Ramsden (Joey/Topthorn heart), Jack Simpson (Klausen), Tom Stacy (Joey/Topthorn head), Elizabeth Stretton (Matron Callaghan/Baby Joey), Kenton Thomas (Bone/Schweyk/Vet Martin), Charlie Tighe (Stewart/Heine/Ludwig) and Matthew Trevannion (Sergeant Thunder)

For cast biographies, please visit:

War Horse is presented in Auckland by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and the National Theatre.

Facts & figures
The Puppets
The puppets in War Horse were created by Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones of South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company, based in Cape Town.
War Horse has 23 puppets, including horses Joey and Topthorn, as well as a goose, two swallows and two crows.
It takes eight months to build a complete set of puppets for War Horse; they are handmade by 14 craftsmen and women.
The finished horse puppets weigh approximately 43 kilos for the body, including the puppeteers' backpacks, and another 7.7 kilos for the head. They are made of cane, leather and tyvec, a material used in book-binding (for the manes and tails). The torso is reinforced with aluminium and able to carry a rider on top.
Joey, Topthorn and Joey as a Foal are each operated by three puppeteers - the Head, the Heart and the Hind. The three puppeteers work together to create the character of each horse and to produce the horse noises.
Puppeteers train for eight weeks before they begin performing. Their training includes basic principles of puppetry before they work specifically on creating the horses.

Productions Around the World
War Horse received its World Premiere at the National Theatre on 9 October 2007 and played 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 and its final performance on 12 March 2016.
The New York production of War Horse opened on 14 April 2011 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center and ran until 6 January 2013; it was seen by over 700,000 people.
In February 2012 War Horse opened at the Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto, and ran until 6 January 2013 where it was seen by over 380,000 people.
A US tour of War Horse began in Los Angeles on 14 June 2012 visiting cities such as San Francisco, Dallas, Boston, Washington, Chicago and Seattle, and toured North America until 22 June 2014. It was followed by a visit to Tokyo, Japan in summer 2014. The tour was seen by over 1.2m people.
An Australian production opened at the Melbourne Arts Centre State Theatre on 31 December 2012 and then toured to Sydney and Brisbane.
In October 2013 a German language production called Gerfärhten opened at the historic Theater des Westens in Berlin, where it ran for a year.
A tour of the UK and Ireland ran from September 2013 until February 2015 during which time 700,000 people saw the show.
A Chinese-language production of War Horse opened in 2015 at the National Theatre of China in Beijing and is now on tour around China, including seasons in Shanghai and Guangzhou.
War Horse has also toured The Netherlands (Dutch language production), Belgium (Flemish production) and South Africa.
A second UK tour of War Horse began in September 2017 and continues into 2019.
This tour will also visit Hong Kong, New Zealand and Paris, with further international dates to be announced in 2019-2020.
War Horse returned home to the National Theatre in London on 8 November 2018, for the first time in 10 years, playing until January 2019, to mark the end of World War One. On 11 November, Armistice Day, a special commemorative performance took place, introduced by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo, which included a specially staged moment of remembrance that the company had worked into the show.

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, Elaine Stritch, Michael Buble, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, Martin Clunes, Liza Minnelli, Nicole Scherzinger, Gary Barlow, Sir Bob Geldof, Tom Daley, Philip Schofield, Tana Ramsay, John Hurt, Natalie Gumede, Sir Steve Redgrave, Bill Bailey, Elizabeth Jagger, Greg Rutherford, Mary Berry, the late Terry Wogan and Ronnie Wood.
Having seen the show at the New London 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.

UK Awards
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
2012 Whatsonstage Best West End Show Award

US Awards
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

Canadian Awards
2012 Toronto Theatre Critics Awards Best Design - The creative team of War Horse
2012 Toronto Dora Awards Outstanding Costume Design - Rae Smith, Adrian Kohler with Basil Jones for Handspring Puppet Company
2012 Toronto Dora Awards Outstanding Choreography - Toby Sedgwick
2012 Toronto Dora Awards Audience Choice Award

US Tour Awards
2012 Best Presented Production - LA Ovation Awards

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