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'War Horse' musicians lose legal fight after sacking

Five musicians sacked from the hit West-End musical 'War Horse' have lost a legal fight to have their sacking suspended whilst a breach of contract case is heard, reports the BBC.

The five musicians were released by the producers of War Horse after they decided to replace live music with recorded music for certain parts of the show.

The musicians have decided to challenge the decision as they believe it was a breach of contract, and had asked the High Court to grant an injunction that would have allowed them to continue working until their case is heard.

The theatre version of Michael Morpurgo's War Horse novel has become one of the most successful West End productions of all time, using imaginative puppets to play the part of horses in World War I. The show has played to 97% audiences since 2010 and was named the theatrical event of the decade by The Times.

The five musicians, Jonathan Eddie, Neyire Ashworth, David Holt, Andrew Callard and Colin Rae have worked on the programme since 2009. However, they had their roles cut in 2013 to just a couple of minutes per performance, and last month were axed entirely as the orchestral parts of the performance were replaced with recorded music.

Although the High Court judge accepted that the five musicians had a 'strong' chance of winning their case for breach of contract, he said he was not persuaded that an injunction was appropriate in this case.

Counsel for the five, James Laddie QC, said the five claimants wanted to affirm their right to enforce their contracts.

"The claimants have not accepted this breach of their contracts, and have elected to affirm their contracts," he said in court.

"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.

The National Theatre said the decision to cut the music from the production was taken for artistic and financial reasons, and that War Horse was principally a play with music, rather than a musical production.