National Theatre Lets WAR HORSE Musicians Go; Opts for Pre-Recorded Soundtrack

The National Theatre has terminated the contracts of five musicians who, until recently, provided live accompaniment for the West End production of War Horse, according to The Stage.

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."

According to The Stage's report, the National Theatre had been using 25% of its annual £1 million music budget on London's run of War Horse, and stated that it did not think that was the most efficient allocation of its resources.

Part of the National Theatre's decision was the fact that the War Horse musicians were based offstage for the majority of the show, appearing to the audience for about two minutes per performance. The Stage also notes that live accompaniment had made up a minimal proportion of the show's score - large amounts of which are already pre-recorded.

"If War Horse were produced at the National Theatre now, it wouldn't have live musicians," the National Theatre's spokeswoman told The Stage. "Productions at the NT now have live musicians when it's in the production's best artistic interests."

"In War Horse the band was on stage for just two minutes in one scene and played around 12% of the music in the rest of the show, backstage," she said.

The five musicians are currently in discussions with the National Theatre. The spokeswoman said the organization hopes to resolve the feud with the musicians through mediation.

For the full story, head over to The Stage's report here.

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From This Author Hilary Kelly