Wind in the Willows at the Duchess Theatre ***

The Wind in the Willows is bought to the Duchess Theatre by the Royal Opera House. The mix of ballet, song, puppetry and narration was an inspiring way to bring to life a beloved story. 

The play opens with Kenneth Graham (played by Tony Robinson) inviting the audience to relive the story of Wind in the Willows and introduces us to our old friends Mole (Clemmie Sveaas), Ratty (Will Kemp), Badger (Christopher Akrill) and of course Toad of Toad Hall (Cris Penfold). Kenneth Graham narrates the play as the rest of the characters dance to the music inspired by George Butterworth and scored by Martin Ward. Ward did a fantastic job of bringing the countryside to the heart of  London – you feel as if you’re lying in meadows on a warm spring afternoon. Other members of the company include Ewan Wardrop, Paul James Rooney, Kayleigh Gore, Connor Dowling, Kirsty Mather, Anna Martine, Jo Meredith and Aron Wild.

Tony Robison’s heartening voice and presence on stage was a welcoming addition to the creative dancing taking us through the story of Wind in the Willows giving meaning to the characters. The mix of dance, narration and song truly showed what modern theatre is all about: incorporating different styles to create a sensory experience. This is Robinson’s first time back in West End Theatre since 1997 and the Blackadder actor brings another dimension to the performance. Choreographer Will Tuckett really thought about the way animals move and interact with each other and naturally portrayed it through dance. The mixture of ballet and tap bought the animals to life as animals and not just relying on the audience to suspend their disbelief. It would have been nice to have more song throughout the performance since all the cast were in great voice. I would have liked Badger to have been even more dirty and grimacing along with the Weasels and Stoats as I remember them from the books. I’m sure however, a seven-year old would find the baddies sufficiently scary. Overall, I definitely would put Wind in the Willows on your must see list before the season ends at the Duchess Theatre. The Royal Opera House always creates fantastic shows and is a great way to experience one of their productions without the hefty price tag. Tickets range from £15-£42.50. It’s the first time a ROH production has been passed on to the West End. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10zeyqSfZsI The Wind in the Willows is on until the 1st of February so be sure to get your tickets before they run out. It is a fantastic way to introduce little ones to a great children’s tale but also funny enough for adults to enjoy. Over and Out!

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