WAR Horse has become the most successful show in theatre history in Southampton, the Daily Echo can reveal.

The four-week run of the equine puppetry production attracted an audience of 66,259 to The Mayflower Theatre in February and March – the highest ever for any show excluding one-nighters.

That means 95 per cent full houses each night, compared to an average of under 60 per cent audience attendance for theatres nationally.

Chief executive Michael Ockwell told the Daily Echo: “We knew that War Horse would be a successful show to present here in Southampton, and were absolutely delighted with the results.

“The theatre as a whole thoroughly enjoyed the four-week run of the show. When every department from backstage, to front of house has a real buzz about a show, you know you are on to a winner.

“In addition to the piece on stage, our community and education team facilitated several major joint educational projects in the local area bringing the themes of the show to life on a local level.

“War Horse had a record-breaking run in terms of attendance, which is an amazing feat.”

War Horse was The Mayflower’s first collaboration with the National Theatre, which returns in June with One Man, Two Guvnors and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time next summer.

Theatre bosses will be hoping for similar levels of interest as for War Horse, which saw them take the unusual step of opening up standing room for every one of the 31 performances.

War Horse tells the powerful and uplifting story of young Albert and his adored horse Joey and takes audiences from the farms of rural Devon to the battlefields of France. It is based on Michael Morpurgo’s much-loved First World War novel of the same name.