Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds
Wind in the Willows is a new musical take on Kenneth Grahame’s classic book from Julian Fellowes with music and lyrics from Stiles & Drewe, performed by local amateur theatre group, Bury St Edmunds Operatic and Dramatic Society (BSEODS).
This modern retelling gives us all our favourite characters, in a fantastic up-tempo family show. This riotous comedy follows Mole, Rat, Badger and the impulsive Mr Toad whose insatiable need for speed lands him in serious trouble!
Mole leaves home for the first time and is very apprehensive, however he meets Ratty who looks after him, gets introduced to all the countryside animals who all have their stories to tell. Mrs Otter and daughter Portia, the Hedgehogs, the swallows, the field mice and others. They become good friends and Mole stays for a while. Mole gets to meet Ratty’s friend Mr Toad, who is seen speeding about on his latest purchase, and they become friends too. They spend the summer having fun and adventures, however as time goes on Ratty and Mole start to worry about Toad, who is selfish and impulsive. They go and talk to Badger, who has been a friend of Toad’s for a long time. But this means they have to go through the scary Wild Wood where the sinister Wild Wooders live – these are the weasels, foxes and stoats.
Toad is arrested for his shenanigans, the Wild Wooders kidnap Portia and take over Toad Hall while Mr Toad is in prison. However Mr Toad escapes, finds his friends and the fight the Wild Wooders to get reclaim Toad Hall.
It’s a big story line and plenty to pack into the show, however that’s what makes it a fun fast-paced show. It’s supposed to be a comedy and it’s full of family humour, and a few mistakes from the cast adds to its warmth and endearing nature. There were plenty of laughs
Costumes are fun, and consistent within the animal groups which help identification, for example I loved the hedgehogs with their spikey hair, hi-viz vests and head torches. The Wild Wooders were all in black and red looking like a gang.
Plenty of speaking parts between all the songs to keep the story on track. I appreciated the clever songs to depict the passing of time, for example the swallows coming, but also the bursts of singing front of stage while set changes were taking place behind the curtain. The singing and variety of songs were great.
Nic Metcalfe who played Toad was completely charismatic and portrayed the over-the-top character delightfully. The whole cast were loving their time on stage playing all the characters, as an amateur performance it was both lovely to see at the theatre and to see how people’s time and effort into these shows were giving joy to the audience.
The other pleasure of the show was the live orchestra in the pit adding to the ambiance of the show with their delightful playing.
- Toad – Nic Metcalfe
- Mole – James Jefferies
- Rat – Kat Metcalfe
- Badger – Colin Musgrove