War Horse Musicians Lose Battle Over Jobs
Five musicians have failed to win a court order preventing them from being replaced with a pre-recorded soundtrack in the West End production of War Horse.
Neyire Ashworth, Andrew Callard, Jonathan Eddie, David Holt and Colin Rae were all made redundant from the show's New London Theatre run last month after the National Theatre (NT) terminated their contracts.
They asked Mr Justice Cranston to grant them a temporary injunction preserving the status quo until the case for breach of contract could be tried.
However, the judge at London's High Court said he was not persuaded to make the interim order.
The NT, which also has productions of the multi award-winning show touring the UK and the US and another playing in Berlin, told the judge - who revealed he had never seen it - that the decision was made for artistic and financial reasons.
The move to recorded music first arose in late 2012 and the musicians' roles were reduced after March 2013 to three or four minutes until stopping altogether on March 15.
Counsel James Laddie QC said: "The claimants have not accepted this breach of their contracts, and have elected to affirm their contracts. 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: "Even a small walk-on role is better than nothing. 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."
David Reade QC, for the NT, said it appeared to be the musicians' case that they were entitled to remain part of the play even where there was no role for them in it.
It was permitted to terminate their contracts where there was no longer a need for their services because there was no longer to be an orchestra as part of the production.
"The orchestra was not an integral part of the play, and indeed there is no live band in any other production around the world."
Nick Starr, the NT's executive director, had said in evidence that the producers and directors did not believe that the musicians could contribute positively to the play and it was better off without them.