‘War Horse’ May Lead a Night of British Triumph at Tonys

Michael Morpurgo

Broadway’s biggest night of the year could end up with the British play War Horse taking home five trophies at the Tony Awards, including best play.

Any prizes would be good news for the play’s Broadway crew and cast — and the creative team from London’s National Theatre, who co-produced the New York staging.

But it will also be a further victory for 67-year-old Michael Morpurgo. He may not be a household name in the U.S., but if it wasn’t for this British novelist there would be no War Horse production in New York or London.

He wrote the 1982 children’s book that inspired both the play and a forthcoming Steven Spielberg movie adaptation starring Benedict Cumberbatch.


Told through life-size horse puppets on stage, Morpurgo’s story of the relationship between a young English boy and his horse — as both are plunged into the horrors of World War 1 — has been mesmerizing audiences.

Morpurgo is flattered Spielberg is making a War Horse movie. He says: “He’s taken the best from the book, the best from the show, and bringing his own genius to it. I can’t believe anything other than he’s going to make an amazing film. I certainly hope so.”

Morpurgo views War Horse as serious entertainment. He told me the story is about the universality of suffering in war, a subject that has relevance at a time when the U.S. is engaged in military conflicts abroad.