Stage adapation of the novel by Kenneth Grahame
The Wind in the Willows - Will Tuckett's Dance Version
Previewed 11 December 2013, Opened 16 December 2013, Closed 1 February 2014 at the Duchess Theatre
Previewed 26 November 2014, Opened 4 December 2014, Closed 17 January 2015 at the Vaudeville Theatre
Will Tuckett's dance version of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows in London for a strictly limited Christmas 2014 season starring Alan Titchmarsh as the Narrator.
Join Toad and his three friends Badger, Ratty, Mole on the riverbank this Christmas. Originally staged in 2001 at the Royal Opera House's Linbury Studio Theatre, after a number of sell-out Christmas seasons this production enjoyed a successful West End season over Christmas 2013 at the Duchess Theatre and it now returns for Christmas 2014.
The cast for The Wind in the Willows in London for the Christmas 2014 season features Alan Titchmarsh as 'Narrator' along with Sonya Cullingford as 'Mole', Martin Harvey as 'Ratty', Cris Penfold as 'Toad' and Ira Mandela Siobhan as 'Badger'. Adapted for the stage by Andrew Motion from the novel by Kenneth Grahame with music by Martin Ward, inspired by George Butterworth. It is directed and choreographed by Will Tuckett with set designs by The Quay Brothers, costumes by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting by Warren Letton and puppet designs by Toby Ollé. PLEASE NOTE: This production is suitable for children 5 years old and over.
"Director-choreographer Will Tuckett's enchanting, exquisitely danced musical take on Kenneth Grahame's masterpiece which began at the Royal Opera House is being given a well deserved extended life at the Vaudeville Theatre. Alan Titchmarsh, in tweed suit and specs, narrates with aplomb. Even the snow - real, sloshy snowflakes - can't dampen the delight. Utterly charming." The Mail on Sunday
"Kenneth Grahame's children's classic was adapted for the Royal Opera House's Linbury Studio space eleven years ago and became a staple festive offering. It's now made the short leap to a West End venue, the bijou Duchess Theatre... The Quay Brothers' dusty attic set is cleverly repurposed for the well-loved tale, with a length of silk pulled from a drawer recreating the river, a wardrobe and rocking horse standing in for a caravan and an oversized, upturned Windsor chair making Toad's jail cell. The piece is a loving paean to the act of imagination, with a gentle humour throughout. What's missing is a solid dance element; this is more choreographed movement among the bric-a-brac props and feels a little slight as a result. Still, the performances are lovely... There are enchanting touches throughout: a snow shower for the front rows as carollers serenade us; Toad racing round the theatre in his stolen car during the interval, the police in hot pursuit; a raucous face-off between Badger and Chief Weasel in the climactic battle scene. Short, sweet Christmas fare." The London Metro
"Car theft, prison breaks, assaults on a squatters' encampment - Yes, it's the Royal Opera House family Christmas show, back for its fifth run but now transferring to a West End theatre. It's the first time any ROH production has done that, in an appeal to audiences more used to drama than ballet... Telling the much-loved story of reckless Mr Toad, his imprisonment for dangerous driving and the efforts of his riverbank friends Ratty, Mole and Badger to win back his ancestral home from marauding creatures, it's basically a narrated ballet with all the props, plus the occasional song... With his splay-kneed choreography and gaping mouth, green-haired Cris Penfold as Toad is a feather-brained joy to watch. He's well supported by Will Kemp as swashbuckling Ratty, Christopher Akrill playing Badger as a gruff pugilist and Clemmie Sveaas as myopic Mole." The Daily Express
"Kenneth Grahame's classic is sometimes recast as an ecological morality fable, but Will Tuckett plays the story straight: three furry fogeys defending their arcadia from oikish weasels and the combustion engine... The dance is witty and characterful; and the designs, by the Quay brothers, create a magical low-tech world in which a few streamers transport us to the riverbank and a red light in a box becomes a cosy fireside. Grahame's riverside idyll can prove a little short on conflict in the sleepy first act but comes to life after the interval" The Sunday Telegraph
"A heart-warming charmer for all the family. Will Tuckett's witty choreography brings Kenneth Grahame's characters to life in a seamless succession of escapades, with evocative and spirited music by Martin Ward... and clever designs by the Quay Brothers that transform the discarded contents of an attic into the river bank, a caravan, a prison, a train and Toad Hall. The cast of dance-actors, equally versatile... very funny and touching, too." The Sunday Times
The Wind in the Willows in London at the Duchess Theatre previewed from 11 December 2013, opened on 16 December 2013 and closed on 1 February 2014, returned to London at the Vaudeville Theatre previewed from 26 November 2014, opened on 4 December 2014 and closed on 17 January 2015.
The Wind in the Willows - George Stiles and Anthony Drewe - 2017
Previewed 17 June 2017, Opened 29 June 2017, Closed 9 September 2017 at the London Palladium
A major new musical based on Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows in London starring Rufus Hound
A riotous musical comedy that follows the impulsive Mr Toad whose insatiable need for speed lands him in serious trouble. But with his beloved home under threat from the notorious Chief Weasel and his gang of sinister Wild Wooders, Toad must attempt a daring escape leading to a series of misadventures and a heroic battle to recapture Toad Hall.
Adapted from the classic Kenneth Grahame book by Julian Fellowes with music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. PLEASE NOTE: Age guidance is four and above.
The cast features Rufus Hound as 'Mr Toad', Denise Welch as 'Mrs Otter', Gary Wilmot as 'Badger', Simon Lipkin as 'Rat', Craig Mather as 'Mole' and Neil McDermott as 'Chief Weasel' with Chris Aukett, Rosanna Bates, Joel Baylis, Jenna Boyd, Abigail Brodie, Jorell Coiffic-Kamall, Nicole Deon, Emilie du Leslay, James Gant, Joshua Gannon, Evan James, Michael Larcombe, Bethany Linsdell, Ryan Pidgen, Adam Vaughan, Georgie Westall and Natalie Woods. Directed by Rachel Kavanaugh with choreography by Aletta Collins, designs by Peter McKintosh, lighting by Howard Harrison and sound by Gareth Owen.
When this production opened here at the London Palladium in June 2017, Michael Billington in the Guardian wrote that "it's one of those pieces of theatre that passes the time innocently but I'm not sure that is enough. The book may be susceptible to many different readings but here you feel it has been adapted with professional commitment rather than reimagined with personal passion." Neil Norman in the Daily Express noted how "the songs by George Stiles and lyricist Anthony Drewe are pale imitations influenced by Britain's musical heritage... And it never settles down into a coherent musical structure... Julian Fellowes' script is similarly disorganised... All in all, it is pretty bad." a dissappointed Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail said: "I’m afraid I found it bland and unmemorable... Gary Wilmot makes a dignified Badger, but Simon Lipkin’s Rat felt more like a pantomime Buttons and Rufus Hound is pretty awful as Mr Toad. You need to do more to convey a character than merely pulling your mouth to one side and fnarr-fnarring under a green moustache." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph complained that "this show is burdened by an insufferable tweeness. There's only so much Edwardian innocence, as expressed through the power of song, that one can take, and I had my fill of it by the end of the first of 20 numbers... The comic ebullience and brio of a boggle-eyed, green-mustachioed Rufus Hound as Toad saves it from being a full-on car crash." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard thought "it sounds promising, but at every turn this lavish take on Kenneth Grahame's 1908 novel chooses sweetness over mischief... It's a meandering journey rather than a genuinely engaging one, and the wide variety of musical idioms means it never asserts a particular voice or vision... Rachel Kavanaugh's production, though picturesque and deftly choreographed, is slow to exert any grip. It's bland and more than a little twee." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times explained that "the relentless push needed to fill the vast Palladium, coupled with a lack of real meat in Julian Fellowes' book, produces something increasingly brash and hollow. Fellowes' script is slender at best... but with no real jeopardy and insufficient investment in plot, subtlety and character detail, the show stalls. There is a lot of engine-revving here, but little forward motion." Ann Treneman in the Times held that "Kenneth Grahame’s bucolic tale deserves better... Rachel Kavanaugh, the director, has created something that is too safe and never feels as if it is pushing the boundaries... Simon Lipkin does his best as Ratty and Craig Mather is endearing as Mole but it’s not enough... This tale is all about speed and yet this underpowered musical just never really takes off."
Rufus Hound's West End credits include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Savoy Theatre in 2015. Gary Wilmot's theatre credits include Neil Simon's musical play The Goodbye Girl at the Noel Coward Theatre in 1997 and Barry Manilow's musical Copacabana at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 1994. George Stiles and Anthony Drewe's London theatre credits include The 3 Little Pigs at the Palace Theatre in 2015 and Betty Blue Eyes at the Novello Theatre in 2011. They have also updated, revised and provided new songs for the musicals Half a Sixpence which is currently playing at the Noel Coward Theatre and for the Disney's musical Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre in 2004.
"The cast work their respective webs, snouts and tails off, the lyrics are clever, the design succeeds. If only this likeable musical based on Kenneth Grahame's enchanting tales had more memorable, distinctive tunes. Instead, despite its pedigree — the book is by that modern Edwardian Julian Fellowes — and a cast including exuberant talents such as Rufus Hound, Simon Lipkin and Gary Wilmot, this never feels bigger or better than a solid regional or off-West End Christmas show... It lacks both the beguiling lyricism and gentle humour of Grahame's original, and its sharp reading of class: Toad could be more buffoonish, Ratty more outraged, the Weasels more sinister. Some cute hedgehogs and a lovely mouse wassail, though. Poop, poop, as Toad might say." The Sunday Times
"Don't expect a musical about a badger, a rat, a mole and a toad to have even the teensiest bit of bite. Of course, no one's take on Kenneth Grahame's enchanting riverbank classic was ever going to be wild. But Julian Fellowes' adaptation is tame stuff indeed, as cosy and exciting as a handspun woolly jumper... Rachel Kavanaugh's production ambles along like a nature ramble. The thin plot grinds to a halt soon after Spring, the opening number, for One Swallow Does Not A Summer Make, which comes from a trio of swallows portrayed as air hostesses in cute little capes... Rufus Hound has plenty of vava-voom as a swaggering and unsquashable Toad – unlike the hedgehogs – but this harmless, charmless show takes us nowhere interesting." The Mail on Sunday
"Kenneth Grahame's riverside gem about Ratty, Mole and Toad is an enduring tale of pastoral charm, Edwardian innocence - and class warfare. The most striking - and best - thing about this musical adaptation of the 1908 children's classic are the stoats and weasels, who terrorise Toad and his friends from their dens in the Wild Wood and move into his palatial Hall when he gets banged up for stealing - and crashing - yet another car... Yet for all I adored the woodland anarchists, Rachel Kavanaugh's lavish production, which stars Rufus Hound as the blustery, blundering Mr Toad, is a disappointment. It certainly looks the part, with a shimmery set that beautifully evokes the changing seasons of the English countryside. It has moments of real sweetness. There's a lovely scene in which four hedgehogs try to cross a road - and change their minds. But the stuff that should work well doesn't. Hound makes a decent fist as Toad but like most of the cast he's hampered by Julian Fellowes' adaptation, which compresses far too much of Grahame's original characterisations. The storyline is muddy at times and in the first half achingly ponderous. There's not enough eccentricity, comedy or sense of fun. And there's far too much of George Stiles's bland score. Things pick up in the second half as Toad jumps from train to boat in an attempt to escape the police. But if it's a toss-up between watching this and reading Grahame I know which I'd prefer." The Metro
The Wind in the Willows in London at the Palladium previewed from 17 June 2017, opened on 29 June 2017 and closed on 9 September 2017