Musicians in the West End production of War Horse are seeking a court order preventing the National Theatre from replacing them with a pre-recorded soundtrack.
All five were made redundant from the show’s New London Theatre run last month after the NT terminated their contracts.
The NT, which also has productions of the multi-award winning show touring the UK and the US and another playing in Berlin, says it made the decision for artistic and financial reasons.
Yesterday, at London’s High Court, James Laddie QC, acting for Neyire Ashworth, Andrew Callard, Jonathan Eddie, David Holt and Colin Rae, asked Mr Justice Cranston – who revealed he had not seen the show – for a temporary injunction preserving the status quo until the case can be tried.
The musicians, who were engaged in March 2009, were given 11 days notice and continued until recently with the “charade” of turning up at the theatre and being turned away again, he 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.”
The NT first said it planned to move to recorded music in late 2012 and the musicians’ role was reduced after March 2013 to three or four minutes until stopping altogether on March 15.
In its letter to them last month, the NT said: “The reason for your redundancy is that we wish to bring the London production into line with other productions of War Horse that now exist, and this is the wish both of NT management and the creative team.”
Mr Laddie said the musicians were not asking to go back to the pre-March 2013 position but to where they were a few weeks ago: “Even a small walk-on role is better than nothing.”
The case continues.