War Horse coming to Auckland

Fans meet theatre star in Aotea Square

BRIDGET JONES
Last updated 14:26 21/11/2012
KRISSY DWYER/Fairfax NZ

Finn Caldwell, associate puppetry director of Warhorse, talks to Bridget Jones about the artistry of the puppeteers.

War Horse
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax Media
HIGH HOPES: Joey and the puppeteers from War Horse show off their sills in Aotea Square, Auckland.

War Horse trailer

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War Horse, the six-time Tony Award winning stage show, will gallop its way into Auckland next year.

The hit production from The National Theatre of Great Britain and the creators of Walking With Dinosaurs will run for four weeks at the ASB Theatre from the end of August next year.

The show, based on the book by Michael Morpugo, and later adapted by Steven Spielberg for a Hollywood blockbuster, tells the story of Joey, the beloved horse of a boy called Albert, who is sold to the cavalry at the outbreak of WWI.

Having a real horse play the central character would be a challenge, so instead Joey is played by a life-sized puppet created by South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company.

Joey - operated by three puppeteers who stand inside and next to the animal - breathes, walks, bucks and listens.

Associate puppetry director Finn Caldwell said five years on from the show's premiere, he is still in awe of the creature every time it steps on stage.

"I still get butterflies every time I see him."

Caldwell, who started out as a puppeteer in the show, said he had been surprised by its success, which has included two Laurence Olivier Awards as well as the Tony Awards, but believed it was a story audiences could connect with.

"We never tried to build a blockbuster. Every time the show leaps to somewhere new, we are all amazed. When we made the show back in England, we said we would be pleased if people even liked it. 

"It was such a risk; you have a horse as a central character, who doesn't talk, he isn't a metaphor for a human being, and who is a puppet. It's a really big ask for the audience. I guess it was just a big experiment and we are very pleased that is has gone the way that it has."

The show, with a local cast of more than 30 performers, will begin in Auckland after a three-city tour of Australia.

WAR HORSE

WHEN: From August 20, 2013

WHERE: ASB Theatre, Auckland.  

Tickets from Buy Tickets.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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