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'Equus,' now playing at Pittsburgh Public Theater, has a long, storied history

Susan Jones
| Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Spencer T. Hamp as Alan and Ben Blazer as the horse, Nugget, in Pittsburgh Public Theater's 'Equus.'
Michael Henninger
Spencer T. Hamp as Alan and Ben Blazer as the horse, Nugget, in Pittsburgh Public Theater's 'Equus.'

Since it first opened in the 1970s in London, "Equus" has attracted plenty of high-profile actors and awards.

The play, about a young stable hand Alan Strang whose love of horses morphs into something odd and then suddenly into violence, will kick off the final season for Pittsburgh Public Theater's producing artistic director Ted Pappas. It runs through Oct. 29 at Pittsburgh's O'Reilly Theater. Pappas will leave the company in August 2018

"I chose Equus to start my last season at The Public because it's an epic drama, full excitement and suspense," Pappas says. "I've wanted to direct this show for a long time and when Daniel Krell was available to play the psychiatrist I knew the time was right."

Krell plays Martin Dysart, who must uncover the hidden motives behind Alan's deed. Krell has appeared in several productions for The Public and at other local theaters. Spencer T. Hamp plays Alan Strang.

The two roles have been filled over the years by some of the biggest names in theater:

Playing Martin Dysart

• Anthony Hopkins, original theatrical cast, 1974

• Richard Burton, replacement in original run and star in the 1977 movie, for which he was nominated for an Oscar

• Leonard Nimoy, replacement in original run

• Anthony Perkins, replacement in original run

• Richard Griffith, 2008-09 revival

Playing Alan Strang

• Peter Firth, original theatrical cast and in the 1977 movie. He was nominated for both a Tony and an Oscar for the role

• Tom Hulce, replacement in original run

• Daniel Radcliffe, 2008-09 revival, in his Broadway debut and in a role that helped him separate from his Harry Potter character.

The play, which uses actors wearing metal sculpted heads and hooves to play horses, was written by Peter Shaffer and won the Tony Award for best play in 1974. Shaffer also won a Tony and Oscar for the theater and film versions of "Amadeus."

Fair warning: The play does contain adult themes and nudity.

Susan Jones is the Tribune-Review features editor. Reach her at 724-850-1272, sjones@tribweb.com or on Twitter at @SusanJonesTrib.

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