BWW Interviews: David Hurwitz from WAR HORSE North American Tour Talks Anime and Puppets

As War Horse travels the country, audiences are taken in by the wonderful storyline and talented cast presenting this show. They come to learn how a young horse named Joey can touch so many lives and warm so many hearts. They are also amazed by the talents of the puppeteers who make Joey and other horses come to life as the actors weave a story around this beautiful character.

David Hurwitz is the actor who plays Albert's cousin, Billy and is seen as the antagonist in the story. But, Billy has so much to offer and David shared with BWW his story as well as Billy's.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into show business?

I'm from Vancouver BC and started doing theater at a young age. I was in a production of Oliver and from that I got asked to be in a choir to audition for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starring Donny Osmond and the choir got the job. It was pretty exciting for a ten year old to be performing with Donny Osmond. It was a great experience and we got a hundred dollars a week. It was pretty awesome. From then on I was hooked. I was always taking dance classes and singing lessons every week and acting classes and doing as much theater as possible. I never really did anything else except for studying performing arts growing up. It's the only thing I know how to do but I love it so it's been a huge part of my life. It's brought me a lot of blessings and I'm really grateful that I get to do it professionally now. It's a dream come true. I went to a college right out of high school called the Canadian College of the Performing Arts in Victoria BC and that's a musical theater school. I studied there for one year and then I decided that I really wanted to sink my teeth into acting so I went to an acting school in Vancouver called Studio 58 which is a three year conservatory program for stage and acting. I graduated from there and I am still trying to go to classes and learn as much as possible. I never feel like I know enough so always learning and immersing myself in the craft is sort of my key to keeping it fresh.

I also saw that you did some voiceover with anime.

In Vancouver there's a large animation voiceover scene and I got connected with an agent there and my agent was really connected to the voice world. I landed a few voice gigs and I voiced the character called Mello in an animated Japanese cartoon called Death Note. It has a huge following and fan base online and it was a really great project to be part of and I really enjoyed it. I'm really glad that I am able to put it on my resume. I have random people write me fan letters and people have come up to me after shows and want to take pictures with me because they know me from Death Note. It's pretty cool. I love all aspects of the industry so I want to keep doing voiceovers. I want to keep doing theater and everything I can to keep busy and to never get bored.

What is the most challenging part about doing the voiceovers?

What I did was dubbings so you're in a studio by yourself with the director. Sometimes the director's not even there. You're just hearing them over a speaker. They're in another city or country. You have to wait for a beep. You have three little beeps and on the third beep you have to start speaking. A lot of it has to do with matching your lips to the character's lips because the character lips are moving to the Japanese dialog. A lot of it is about timing which can be challenging. Everything else is a lot of fun.

How long have you been with War Horse?

I have been with War Horse since December 5, 2011. I was cast in the Toronto production and did that for around a year. I was a swing in the Toronto production and understudied ten tracks and I ended up doing more than ten tracks. It was an incredible experience. In February of 2012, the swing position opened up on the U.S. tour and so they asked me to join the U.S. tour as a swing and I swung here until the show reopened again as the North American Tour when I took over the role of Billy.

Tell us more about Billy and how he fits into the story.

Billy is Albert's cousin. The story War Horse is about Albert and his horse Joey who gets drafted into World War I to be part of the Calvary. Early on in the story, you meet Billy because Billy also wants to acquire the horse at auction. But the horse goes to Billy's cousin Albert whose father outbids Billy's father. So there's a rivalry between the two boys and Billy is older than Albert so he is considered the antagonist of the story and he ends up going to war himself and gets his own little storyline which is great as an actor because I get to play a nice little character arc.

Tell us about the others you are performing with.

I'm getting to work with some great actors. There's Andrew Long who is playing my father. He's a very well established American actor and he's a lot of fun to work with. He's always doing new crazy things onstage and always giving me a hard time which I enjoy. The most amazing part about this project is working with the puppets. We have a large range of puppeteers that alternate through the two large horses Topthorn and Joey. It's like getting to work with animals which is really fun because I love animals.

If you had not gotten into show business, what do you think you would have done?

Something I have always wanted to do and I want to still do on the side; I love health food. Every city that we go to as soon as we get off the plane or the bus, we go to Whole Foods and stock up for the week so I would love to have my own line of health food products. I think health food is a wonderful industry that can add positive benefits to people's lives and I feel like you are what you eat and it's always something that I will be passionate about as well as theater and the arts.

Do you have any advice for people thinking about getting into the business?

I would say go to school. I would say train as much as you can. Immerse yourself in the art form. Go see as many plays as you can. See movies, talk to people, watch Inside the Actors Studio. Do as much research as possible on every part of the industry and if you still want to do it after all that, then keep going.

War Horse opens at Bass Concert Hall on May 6 and plays until May 11, 2014. Tickets can be purchased through the Texas Performing Arts website.

PHOTO CREDIT: © Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

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From This Author Kathy Strain