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War Horse to close in West End after seven years

Sion Daniel Young in the National Theatre's War Horse. Photo: Simon Annand Sion Daniel Young in the National Theatre's War Horse. Photo: Simon Annand
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War Horse is to end its West End run in 2016 after seven years.

The National Theatre production, which opened at the New London Theatre in March 2009, will stage its final performance on March 12, 2016.

However, the show will embark on a nationwide tour starting in autumn 2016, which will run to the end of 2017.

Producer Chris Harper said: “War Horse has wowed audiences around the world, and we are incredibly proud of what the show has achieved over the last eight extraordinary years. It has been a privilege to bring Michael Morpurgo’s beloved novel to the stage and to share this beautiful story of love and friendship with audiences.”

He continued: “At the heart of War Horse is Joey, the life-size puppet horse, who has become an unlikely star, enchanting and moving audiences of all ages. I’d like to extend a special thank you to the incredible cast and crew who bring the show to life night after night, and we look forward to celebrating the final six months in London before galloping off on tour in 2017.”

War Horse originally premiered on the National Theatre’s Olivier stage on October 17, 2007, and ran until February 14 the next year – before transferring to the West End two years later.

Based on the book by Michael Morpurgo, the play was written by Nick Stafford and directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris. It notably features life-size horse puppets by the Handspring Puppet Company – which Morpurgo said had “transformed the use of puppetry in theatre”.

He added: “Great things from small beginnings grow. Tom Morris and Marianne Elliott dared to take a children’s book about a horse and a boy in the First World War, and make a play of it with puppets. But what puppets. Between them, the National Theatre and Handspring Puppet Company have transformed the use of puppetry in theatre.”

“They wove into their play the design of Rae Smith, the music of Adrian Sutton and John Tams, glorious lighting and sound, and spent two risky years putting the show together. The result, after a stuttering start, was an iconic play, but not simply a play, certainly not a musical, a show like no other, with puppets at its heart. It has moved millions in London and all over the world.”

Upon its closure, War Horse will have played more than 3,000 performances and have been seen by more than 2.7 million people.

It was also the winner of two Olivier awards in 2008: best set design for Smith, Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler, and best theatre choreographer for Sedgwick.

A special series of talks will also be held at the National Theatre to celebrate the show’s final six months.

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