This past Sunday's matinee was the final performance of "War Horse" for nearly half its cast. A year after the first rehearsal was held for the LCT production, fifteen actors said their farewells. Onstage, the leave-taking was expressed with little bits of private business mostly invisible to the audience. I won't furnish details because the actors who mentioned them to me did so off-the-record. What's more, such gestures are full of personal meanings that are not, strictly speaking, the business of this blog. Even in our age of digital secrets-spilling, I am old-fashioned in my belief that discretion is a virtue. 

After the performance, the cast and their invited guests gathered across from Lincoln Center at the Empire Hotel's Rooftop bar to say more goodbyes. Hors d'oeuvres were passed and drinks were downed. I learned quite a few things about what the departing cast members have planned. Some are taking a week or two off. Others are plunging right in to new work - acting assignments that are as far-flung as Florida, California, and Staten Island. 

I confess that I did not linger at the party. I don't like long goodbyes. Besides, in the world of show biz no sooner do you say farewell than you're saying hello again at some rehearsal room or reading. This fact was brought home to me at the "War Horse" affair. As I scanned the Empire room I noticed the presence of Anthony ("Tony") Cochrane, who will be taking over the "War Horse" roles of Chapman Carter and Manfred. I first encountered Cochrane in the cast of "The Coast of Utopia," the LCT production that marked the beginning of this Backstage Blog. He and David Manis (taking over the role of Arthur Narracott) are acquaintances of mine from those Stoppardian days. I hope that I will also run into each of the departing "War Horse" actors at some future project - on the Lincoln Center campus or on that even greater stage known as the streets of New York. 

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