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

The First Preview

Mar 17, 2011

And so, on a day when Army Corporal Frank Buckles, the last American soldier to serve in World War I, was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, the first American preview of War Horse, which takes place during the same conflict, was held at the Lincoln Center Theater's Vivian Beaumont. The synchronicity of this occurrence was not lost among cast members during the preview's after-party across the street from Lincoln Center at P.J. Clarke's clubby basement. But no one was fixating on history: the night itself had been too exciting, certainly judging by the highly enthusiastic reaction of a full house.

"The adrenalin backstage was soaring this evening," said actor Joel Reuben Ganz, who, depending on the performance, portrays Topthorn, Coco, and John Greig. "We've been working hard for two months, some of us for a little longer than that. We were anxious to get in front of an audience."

"You never know what you're going to get when there are strangers in front of you," said Elliot Villar, who is Allan and Soldat Klausen. "But I think everybody was pretty blown away by the intensity of the reaction tonight."

Villar and other actors described the constantly in-motion feel of backstage throughout the performance. "You're never resting for a moment," Villar said. "There's always a sound guy adjusting your mike or a props person making sure about something else." This is not, in other words, a production in which actors are about to lounge in their dressing rooms dialing up golf on the Internet or besting their buddy's score on Angry Birds.

Almost no one at P. J. Clarke's was spending much time watching golf or any other sport on the television above the bar; the need to unwind was as communally intense as the performance had been precisely wound. Like athletes, which they absolutely are, the War Horse actors tend to downplay the amount of exertion required of them; dwelling on it might edge into complaint, and no one wants to be typed as the kvetcher this early in the run.

Occasionally signs of physicality, however, were revealed. Villar and David Pegram, whose roles include Joey as a foal and Private David Taylor, told me that adrenalin and exertion causes the actors to sweat pretty much straight through their woolen costumes. If that seems too intimate a detail for you, let me assure you that many audience members, by the performance's end, were equally sodden. Shedding tears - over tragedy, over reconciliation - tends to do that to you.

Many decision makers crucial to the success of War Horse were in the audience last night, and some of the note takers among them - notes to be delivered during rehearsal the day after, not at a party where they would douse the mood -- were as joyful as the actors. "You're never quite prepared for the moment when there are a thousand or more people watching the thing you've been building for months," said Tom Morris, the co-director, with Marianne Elliott, of War Horse. "At the same time, you're grateful to have them there, because they provide you with so much information."

For his part, Nicholas Hytner, the artistic director of London's National Theatre, where War Horse premiered in 2007 and which is co-producing the New York version with LCT, told me that he's looking forward to seeing just how the War Horse story resonates with American audiences. "The First World War doesn't loom quite so large for the Americans as it does for the British, who were in the conflict for longer. But the story is universally powerful."

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

 

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