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Broadway ‘War Horse’ to close

Play continues on U.S. tour, in London

The Broadway production of “War Horse” will shutter Jan. 6, ending a run at Lincoln Center Theater that will have stretched to about 21 months by the time the show closes.

The play, a New York transfer of a London hit that originated at the National Theater, proved successful enough to expand its originally-skedded limited engagement to an open-ended run in the wake of the strong reviews the show earned when it opened April 14, 2011. Production will have lasted not quite as long as LCT’s 2008 revival of “South Pacific,” which ran more than two years in the same theater, the Vivian Beaumont.

After picking up five 2011 Tonys including best play, “War Horse” became one of the Main Stem’s top-earning nonmusicals, its weekly sales regularly hovering just below the $1 million mark (which it finally broke in November).

More recently, however, B.O. has tapered off, with the production spending most of the summer logging weeks of $600,000 or less. For the week ending Sept. 2, the show pulled in $543,877 and played to crowds at 84% of capacity.

Based on the novel by Michael Morpungo, “War Horse” follows a boy’s quest to reunite with his beloved horse on the battlefields of WWI. Nick Stafford adapted the script for co-helmers Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, with the production’s extensive puppetry provided by Handspring Puppet Company.

Late last year a Steven Spielberg adaptation of the Morpungo novel hit theaters, but the title’s heightened national profile doesn’t seem to have lent an enduring boost to the show’s Rialto box office.

Title is still running in London, and a recently launched U.S. road production is currently playing San Francisco following a kickoff at L.A.’s Ahmanson Theater. International stagings are on tap for Australia and Germany as well as for a U.K. tour.

Broadway incarnation of the show is produced by LCT and the National in association with Bob Boyett, the commercial producer with a longstanding relationship with the National.

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