Lincoln Center Theater
 
 
 
Backstage Blog

by Brendan Lemon

Oh, They Remembered: The Actors Reminisce

Jan 2, 2013

'Tis The Season

Dec 14, 2012

Zach Is Back (And Others Are, Too)

Nov 29, 2012

A Russian is in the House

Nov 9, 2012

Nice Work If You Can Get There

Nov 1, 2012

Downton Abbey Versus War Horse

Oct 19, 2012

In Demand: Hair and Make-Up

Oct 11, 2012

Three Generations Watch the Show

Sep 28, 2012

Ariel's Back at the Beaumont

Sep 18, 2012

War Horse's Closing: What to Feel?

Sep 7, 2012

The Actors Take a Vacation

Aug 27, 2012

Mister Klein is in the House

Aug 7, 2012

Checking in with Sanjit

Jul 28, 2012

The Parade in the Lobby

Jul 19, 2012

Kings of Infinite Space

Jul 2, 2012

Merv Has Something to Crow About

Jun 21, 2012

War Horse Takes the Field

Jun 15, 2012

Sailors go to War Horse

May 30, 2012

Facing a Student Audience

May 16, 2012

The Man Behind War Horse

May 8, 2012

Anniversaries, First Nights, and Andy Murray

Apr 20, 2012

A Bonnie Blue Easter

Apr 9, 2012

Where are the Women?

Mar 29, 2012

Catching up with David Manis

Mar 26, 2012

What People Really Say Backstage

Mar 8, 2012

The Story of Andrew and Albert

Feb 24, 2012

Bellying Up to the Barr

Feb 15, 2012

The Guy with the Goods

Feb 7, 2012

What the New Billy Does Between Shows

Jan 23, 2012

Some Actors Say Goodbye, Others Say Hello!

Jan 12, 2012

Waiting for the Next Wave

Jan 5, 2012

Greetings, Friends!

Dec 21, 2011

Which Way to War Horse?

Dec 5, 2011

What War Horse Actors Line Up For

Nov 18, 2011

Eleven Eleven: For the USO

Nov 14, 2011

What The War Was Really Like

Nov 9, 2011

What They Say in the Returns Line

Oct 26, 2011

The World of Isaac Woofter

Oct 19, 2011

How Elliot Villar Survived His Injury

Oct 11, 2011

WAR HORSE: Reading Suggestions

Sep 28, 2011

Herr Hermann on His German Officer

Sep 22, 2011

September Brings Showers - Of All Kinds

Sep 9, 2011

Richard Crawford Makes Some Thunder

Aug 24, 2011

The Stage Manager Speaks

Aug 15, 2011

"Making War Horse" airs this week on WNET

Aug 8, 2011

Houston is in the House

Jul 28, 2011

WAR HORSE in Summer Attire

Jul 22, 2011

Keeping it Clean with Lynn Bowling

Jul 11, 2011

Ariel Heller Hits the Target

Jun 27, 2011

Alyssa Bresnahan: Life with Mother

Jun 21, 2011

In the Winner's Circle on TONY Night

Jun 13, 2011

Mad About Madeleine

May 27, 2011

Lobby Talk: Audience Members Speak

May 20, 2011

Students are in the House

May 12, 2011

Who Taught the Cast to Fight?

May 2, 2011

The Week After Opening

Apr 22, 2011

WAR HORSE on Opening Night

Apr 15, 2011

Is WAR HORSE Sentimental?

Apr 8, 2011

Helping Out a Buddy

Mar 28, 2011

Song Woman: Mighty Kate

Mar 25, 2011

The First Preview

Mar 17, 2011

Seth Numrich: Boy with a Horse

Mar 7, 2011

What Shall We Call Mr. Millar?

Feb 28, 2011

Can I Bring the Kids?

Feb 18, 2011

New Kids

Feb 10, 2011

Keeping War Horse Moving

Feb 3, 2011

What Happens at Lunchtime

Jan 31, 2011

A Gathering of the Troops

Jan 20, 2011

How WAR HORSE Got Cast

Jan 13, 2011

The Voyage Begins

Jan 10, 2011

New Kids

Feb 10, 2011

Every year, hundreds and even thousands of young actors, newly minted by universities and their drama schools, arrive in New York. Repertoire-ready, they dream of playing Hamlet -- and end up working at Hamburger Hamlet. Those, today, are not my stories. No, today's text is taken from the lessons of Zach Appelman and David Pegram, young members of the War Horse cast, who are among the happy few managing to move to the city with employment. Their stories are their own, but in a broad sense they represent the stories of almost the entire War Horse ensemble, replete with young actors making not just their LCT but their New York debuts.

Appelman grew up in Palo Alto, and Pegram in Houston, and since it's asking too much of me to construct every sentence of this blog posting as a seesaw between the two men, let me adhere to alphabetical order (note to young actors: if you call yourself A.A. Aah, you'll always have top billing in an ensemble cast) and start with the Californian.

"I went to Palo Alto High School," Appelman told me the other day on a rehearsal lunch break, "but I wasn't a Stanford faculty brat. I wasn't really in theater in high school; I did wrestling, track and field, martial arts." It wasn't until Appelman got to UC/Santa Barbara, and took an acting class to fulfill a course requirement that he got hooked. "Acting combined so many of my interests. It engaged me physically, and also tapped into my interests in storytelling and history."

It was in Santa Barbara that Appelman says he developed a love for Shakespeare: "I like epic stories, and that's a main reason I am so attracted to his work." Perhaps it would be truer to say that as an undergraduate (he later got an MFA from the Yale School of Drama, Class of 2010) Appelman deepened his interest in the Bard. "My grandparents took me to see my first Shakespeare play when I was 10. It was Henry IV, at the Old Globe. They had expected to have to take me home at intermission - they expected that I'd be bored. But the fight scenes got to me. I had to stay."

Talk of Bardic onstage conflict arises again when I asked Appelman where he was when he received the news, last fall, of being cast in War Horse. (He plays Sgt. Fine and ensemble roles.) "I was in my apartment in Chicago, about to head to the theater for that evening's performance of Romeo and Juliet." (Appelman was Tybalting.) And his reaction? "I was surprised and excited, and then tried to focus and get through the R & J fight call without stabbing anyone with my rapier."

And where was today's other blog subject, David Pegram, when he got the call to War? "I heard from my agent, when I was at home in my apartment in Jersey City. I jumped around the room in excitement."

Like Appelman, War Horse was not Pegram's first professional gig after finishing school. (Pegram got a BFA in Acting from Rutgers, last spring.) He was in a production of Nathan Louis Jackson's Broke-ology, a few months ago at TheaterWorks in Hartford, a play that had its New York premiere at LCT.

Pegram's interest in performance is longstanding: he went to The High School for the Performing and the Visual Arts in Houston. "My mother always encouraged me," Pegram said, even though, he says in a line reading gracefully tinged with appreciative irony, "She and the rest of my family are in the medical field. I'm the odd man out." (Pegram's mother is an eye surgeon, his father a rheumatologist, and his sister a cancer researcher.)

Pegram, who is part of the trio animating Young Joey in "War Horse," and who portrays the character of David Taylor and other roles in the ensemble, has more than medicine in his lineage. His maternal grandfather, Dave Pope, after whom the actor was named, was an outfielder for the Cleveland Indians, and played in the 1954 World Series.

"I had a teacher in college," Pegram said, "who used to say something that made me roll my eyes then but that now, in War Horse, I realize is so true: 'Actors are athletes.'" Pegram elaborated: "In this show, we have to learn the fundamentals. We have to be agile and mentally sharp. We can't relax, and we have to stay ready for an impulse." Pegram observed that working as a horse in the production is akin to playing basketball. "We're a constantly moving organism."

Brendan Lemon is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of lemonwade.com.

 

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