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“War Horse” Will Gallop into Durham on Tuesday, Oct. 2nd, for Eight Epic Performances at DPAC

The Durham Performing Arts Center will present "War Horse," which earned five 2011 Tony Awards®, including Best Play, Oct. 2-7 as part of its 2012-13 SunTrust Broadway Series

The Durham Performing Arts Center will present “War Horse,” which earned five 2011 Tony Awards®, including Best Play, Oct. 2-7 as part of its 2012-13 SunTrust Broadway Series

EDITOR’S NOTE: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Oct. 4th Triangle Theater Review review and Oct. 5th interview with John Milosich, both by Robert W. McDowell, click and, respectively.

The epic Royal National Theatre production of War Horse will gallop into Durham on Oct. 2nd for eight performances at the 2,700-seat Durham Performing Arts Center. Initially set in 1914, this heart-tugging tale about a Devon farm boy named Albert and his remarkable horse Joey unfolds against the grim backdrop of the World War I, where the Grim Reaper took up full-time residence from 1914 to 1918 in the muddy, bloody fields of France.

NOTE: The show will start at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2nd, due to technical difficulties. Show times for the other Triangle premiere performances of War Horse, which runs about two-and-a-half hours, including intermission, are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

British playwright and author Nick Stafford adapted War Horse from the 1982 Young Adult novel by English children’s book author Michael Morpurgo, which also served as the source for the 2011 motion picture War Horse, directed by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay by Richard Curtis and Lee Hall. Spielberg and cohorts earned nominations for six 2011 Academy Awards®, including Best Picture.

Stafford’s harrowing but ultimately uplifting dramatization of War Horse, directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, with “horse choreography” by Toby Sedgwick, features ingenious life-size horse puppets created by the Handspring Puppet Company of Cape Town, South Africa. War Horse premiered on Oct. 17, 2007 at the Royal National Theatre in London’s South Bank, and moved to London’s West End – where it is still playing – in March 2009.

The Broadway production of War Horse, which combined the original creative team with an American cast, opened on March 15, 2011 at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, where it is scheduled to run for 718 performances before closing on Jan. 6, 2013. War Horse won five 2011 Tony Awards® — for Best Play (Nick Stafford), Best Direction of a Play (Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris), Best Scenic Design of a Play (Rae Smith), Best Lighting Design of a Play (Paule Constable), and Best Sound Design of a Play (Christopher Shutt) — plus the 2011 Drama League Awards for Distinguished Production of a Play; the 2011 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play; and the 2011 Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding New Broadway and a Special Achievement Award for Puppet Design, Fabrication, and Direction for Handspring Puppet Company co-founders Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones.

According to Durham the Performing Arts Center:

War Horse has been seen by 2 million people worldwide and is currently playing at New York’s Lincoln Center Theater, in London’s West End, and at Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre. Future productions of War Horse are planned for Australia, Berlin, and South Africa, as well as a U.K. Tour….

“Hailed by The New York Times as ‘theatrical magic,’ War Horse is the powerful story of young Albert’s beloved horse, Joey, who has been enlisted to fight for the English in World War I. In a tale the New York Daily News calls ‘spellbinding, by turns epic and intimate,’ Joey is caught in enemy crossfire and ends up serving both sides of the war before landing in No Man’s Land.

“Albert, not old enough to enlist, embarks on a treacherous mission to find his horse and bring him home. What follows is a remarkable tale of courage, loyalty and friendship, filled with stirring music and songs and told with the some of the most innovative stagecraft of our time.

“The tour of War Horse, based on the beloved novel by Michael Morpurgo and adapted by Nick Stafford, will be directed by Bijan Sheibani, based on the original Tony Award-winning direction by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, and presented in association with Handspring Puppet Company. At the heart of the show are life-sized puppets which bring breathing, galloping, charging horses to thrilling life on stage.

“In addition to Best Play, War Horse received Tony Awards for Best Direction of a Play (Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris), Best Scenic Design of a Play (Rae Smith), Best Lighting Design of a Play (Paule Constable), and Best Sound Design of a Play (Christopher Shutt). A Special Tony Award was given to Handspring Puppet Company for their integral work on the production.

“The tour … rehearse[d] and preview[ed] at Boise State University’s Morrison Center in Idaho before beginning performances at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles [on] June 14-July 29, 2012. After the Los Angeles engagement, the North American tour will visit San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, Durham, Boston, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, East Lansing, Des Moines, Chicago, Costa Mesa, Tempe, Seattle, Portland, Spokane, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, Fayetteville, Charlotte, Providence, Minneapolis, and Appleton. For the full tour schedule, please visit

War Horse received its world premiere in a limited engagement at the National’s Olivier Theatre in 2007. The play returned to the National Theatre for a second run playing from in 2008-09 before transferring to the West End’s New London Theatre in Spring 2009, where it continues to play an open-ended run….

“The lead producers of the National Tour of War Horse are Bob Boyett and the National Theatre of Great Britain.

“Lincoln Center Theater and the National Theatre of Great Britain in association with Bob Boyett and War Horse LP, are the producers of the American premiere of War Horse, which opened in Spring 2011 at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, where it is currently playing ….”

SECOND OPINION: Sept. 28th Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan:‘War-Horse’, Aug. 17th preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan:’s-Tony-winners–‘War-Horse-’-‘Jersey-Boys’-and-‘Million-Dollar-Quartet’-at-DPAC-this-fall, and March 14th preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan:‘War-Horse’-a-feat-of-puppetry? (Note: You must register first to read these articles).

Durham Performing Arts Center presents WAR HORSE at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 2, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 and 4, 8 p.m. Oct. 5, 2 and 8 p.m. Oct. 6, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701.

TICKETS: $24-$79.50 (including fees).


DPAC Box Office: 919/680-ARTS (2787) or

Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919-281-0587,, or







The Novel: (official website) and (Wikipedia).

The Novelist: (page on Michael Morpurgo’s website) and (Wikipedia).

The Play: (set and costume designer Rae Smith’s website), (U.S. tour), (on Broadway), (in London), (Wikipedia), and (Internet Broadway Database)

The Playwright: (The Agency) and (Wikipedia).

Handspring Puppet Company: (official website) and (Wikipedia).

Royal National Theatre: (official website) and (official website).

Rae Smith: (official website).

John Milosich: (official website).

The Film: (official website), (Wikipedia), and (Internet Movie Database).

World War I: (Wikipedia).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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