WAR HORSE Musicians Seek Court Order to Prevent Use of Pre-Recorded Soundtrack

WAR HORSE Musicians Seek Court Order to Prevent Use of Pre-Recorded Soundtrack

As BroadwayWorld reported earlier this week, The National Theatre has terminated the contracts of five musicians who provided live accompaniment for the West End production of War Horse since March of 2009.

The musicians were replaced last month by a pre-recorded soundtrack in a move that follows the precedent set by War Horse performances in the US and Berlin. Neither of those productions include live music, instead featuring pre-recorded tracks, and the National Theatre is expecting that the UK's production will be equally as successful.

"All the other very successful productions of War Horse have recorded music," a spokeswoman for the National Theatre told The Stage. "It is artistically absolutely successful and this change is supported by the creative team."

Today, the UK's Telegraph reports that the five musicians are now seeking a court order to prevent the National Theatre from replacing them. At the High Court yesterday, James Laddie QC, representing musicians Neyire Ashworth, Andrew Callard, Jonathan Eddie, David Holt and Colin Rae, put in a request to Mr Justice Cranston for a temporary injunction in order to maintain their status in the production.

Mr. Laddie explained that the musicians were given a mere 11 days' notice of their termination and until recently had been going through the "charade" of showing up at the theatre and being turned away. "The claimants have not accepted this breach of their contracts, and have elected to affirm their contracts," he commented. "They have at all times made it clear that they remain willing and able to attend work and to perform their obligations under their contracts."

He added that his clients were not seeking to return to their pre-March 2013 positions but rather only hope to reinstate their status as of a few weeks ago. "Even a small walk-on role is better than nothing," Laddie said. "It is perhaps an indication of how tough the musical world is that they are happy with that - happy being part of an ensemble, being associated with War Horse and picking up regular wages week in week out."

In response, David Reade QC, for the National Theater, distinquished between a musical like Phantom Of The Opera, in which the music plays an integral role in the story, and War Horse, which is a play that has music in it. The judge, who admitted he had not yet seen the show, said he would make his final decision by Tuesday of next week.

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