The calendar date 11/11/11 happens only once a century, and that fact would be reason enough for "War Horse," on that day last week, to treat the occasion as special. But November 11 also happens to be Veterans Day in America, as well as the day, in 1918, that the First World War the foreground story in "War Horse" came to an official end. So the need to do something notable was even more pressing.
The solution was inspired, but I'm not going to tell you about it in my own words. Instead, I'll cede the mic to War Horse actor Seth Numrich, who summed up the occasion in his curtain speech at the end of Friday evenings sold-out performance. I believe it was the first time that the show changed its normal curtain call. This practice will become more common in the coming weeks, as the production, like many shows around New York and the country, begins soliciting donations for Broadway Cares/Equity Fight AIDS.
But back to last Friday, and Numrich's speech. It was beautifully delivered and very heartfelt.
He said that in honor of Veteran's Day, everyone at War Horse was honored to partner with the USO of Metropolitan New York to support our military. He thanked everyone in the audience for playing a role. He announced that the net proceeds from the evening's tickets sales would go directly to USO programs specifically designed to support NY area's troops who are being deployed overseas in the coming months, as well as their families.
Numrich went on to welcome members of the Board of Directors of the USO of Metropolitan New York, including Congressional Medal of Honor winner Colonel Jack Jacobs; Jacobs received warm applause from the audience.
Numrich also mentioned that members of the USO's performance group, the Liberty Belles would be in the lobby to accept any additional donations people felt moved to make toward the USO's programs.
Brendan Lemon is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of lemonwade.com.