The latest West End Musical for the Summer opened on the 29th June at the London Palladium and will be running throughout the Summer until 9th September.
The Wind in the Willows is something which I grew up with – I read the novel by Kenneth Grahame as a child and instantly fell in love with the wild and wacky, crazy and lovable characters. All the characters are woodland creatures living together but of course not always in harmony.
The Wind in the Willows Musical has been cleverly adapted for the stage by the Acedemy Award-winning screenwriter and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, Oliver Award-winning composer and lyricist duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe and is directed by Rachel Kavanaugh.
The lead (Mr Toad) is brilliantly played by comedian and presenter Rufus Hound who bounds around the stage with endless energy who manages to engage the audience and have them laughing at his hilarious and crazy antics.
He is joined on stage by West End stars Simon Lipkin who plays Rat and Craig Mather who plays Mole, EastEnders star Neil McDermott is perfectly suited to his villain character Chief Weasel. Coranation Street and Boy Meets Girl star Denise Welch is wonderfully bouncy and believable as her role as Mrs Otter and also the Barge Woman. You’ll also see West End legend Gary Wilmot starring brilliantly as Badger.
I went to see this on Saturday with Emmy, unsure what I expected as it was one of my favourite childhood books and Emmy hadn’t been introduced to it before this experience. I left smiling and happy and Emmy bounding down the aisle singing the tunes which had stuck in her mind.
The set design was just brilliant and the scenes as real to life as they could be, the costumes were absolutely amazing – suits in many cases made to look like the characters they portrayed, Mr Toad for instance mainly dressed in suit tweed suits with bright green hair, matching moustache and glasses – without much actor prompting it was fairly easy to work out which animals the actors were dressed as. The chief Weasel was certainly the snappiest dressed character and Mole had trousers high enough to give Simon Cowell a run for his money.
Throughout the show you could see the friendships growing between the characters who had just met and then adventured together throughout the show, the songs were catchy and the costume changes just amazing with Mr Toad surely winning a prize for the most changes for one character within one performance – of course Emmy found it hysterical when he donned a bra and dressed as a washer woman to escape jail.
I did find it dragged a little in the middle of the performance but soon picked up again when the actors ventured off stage and into the aisles much to the audiences amusement – Emmy especially loved it when the police were shining their torches into the rows searching for Mr Toad – seats towards the front of the theatre will be best for being up close and personal to this action.
This show should certainly win an award for the most vehicles on stage in a single production due to Mr Toads love of engines and the need for speed.
My favourite characters were Ratty and Mole, the actors portrayed their nervous characters scared of their own shadows when entering the Wild Woods to find Badger just brilliantly. They worked together perfectly as a pair. Emmy loved Mr Toad and couldn’t stop giggling whenever he was on stage.
This show is definitely worth catching before it ends in September, and ticket prices are very reasonably priced too.
It’s worth noting that some seating as with most theatres have restricted views and the air conditioning works very well in this theatre – I had to buy Emmy a T-Shirt during the interval as she was so cold.
We both really enjoyed this show and have now begun a bucket list of shows we still want to see, top of that list is The Lion King and Matilda – both of which Emmy has on her birthday and Christmas list.
Disclaimer: We received ticket to this show in exchange for an honest review.
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