Helen back in north for War Horse

Helen MacFarlane, Alex Moran, Rebecca Killick and Lee Armstrong.
Helen MacFarlane, Alex Moran, Rebecca Killick and Lee Armstrong.

A West End star who was born in the county is returning to the north east with a starring role in the touring production of War Horse.

Helen Macfarlane, who plays Baby Joey, was born in Ashington and grew up in Cramlington, and is happy to return to her native north east with the production, which will be at the Sunderland Empire until May 17.

“I did a lot of dancing in Whitley Bay, at the Margaret Waite School of Dance, and performed in a lot of amateur productions, but I really got into acting while at Durham University,” she said.

“When I came home I joined The People’s Theatre in Newcastle and from there I went on to drama school.

“It’s wonderful to be back in the north east, I’m really chuffed that my mum can see me perform.

“I love the Northumbrian countryside so I’ll be visiting the moors and the coast as much as possible.”

War Horse is the powerful story of a young boy called Albert and his beloved horse, Joey, who has been requisitioned to fight for the English in the First World War.

Caught in enemy crossfire, Joey ends up serving on both sides during the war before landing in no man’s land, while Albert, not old enough to enlist, embarks on a treacherous mission to find his horse and bring him home.

“The show is so well known and we’ve had wonderful responses everywhere we’ve played,” said Helen.

“Playing Joey has been incredible, it’s a lot more technical and physically demanding than other roles as the horse puppets require three people to operate them so you have to work very closely with the two other people in your team.

“Not only is War Horse a great show, but this summer marks the centenary of the outbreak of World War I – which makes the show very relevant.

“I think it’s very important that we never forget those who fought and died.

“Through the story of Joey and Albert, the audience get a glimpse of the war, and what the soldiers and horses had to endure.”

War Horse is at the Sunderland Empire until Saturday, May 17.

For tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/venues/sunderland-empire/