War Horse, the award-winning play based on Michael Morpurgo's book of the same name, rode into Sunderland last week to offer a taster of the show before it arrives at the Empire Theatre next year.

The National Theatre put on a brilliant launch event, explaining the history of the play to school children, friends of the Empire Theatre and the press alike. The show, which tells the epic story of the friendship between Albert and his horse Joey against the backdrop of the First World War, was first produced by the National Theatre in 2007.

War Horse went on to transfer to the West End and Broadway and has since opened productions in Canada and Australia. The first UK tour commences on 27 September, opening at the Theatre Royal Plymouth before travelling up and down the country.

At the launch event, the National Theatre also treated us to an explanation of how the puppets are built and worked, before Joey himelf galloped onto the stage.

Within seconds you forget this is a puppet managed by three puppeteers, as the horse reacted to noise and commands. Finally it reared up and raced off, before the three puppeteers came back for a question and answer session.

War Horse runs 30 April to 17 May 2014 at the Sunderland Empire.