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Toady and Ratty by the riverbank
Toady and Ratty by the riverbank

Wind In The Willows Review

If you're a fan of youth theatre, musicals, or even just Wind In The Willows, this is a must-see for the summer.

After an initial panic when someone had the same seat as me (they'd come a night earlier than was on their ticket), I settled down to hear the orchestra prepare.

There was a large number of children to see this musical adventure but, as is always the case in theatre, the audience age range stretched from under nine to above 90, all eager to hear the songs and see the performance.

Michael Saunders reviews Wind In The Willows

The age range of the cast was also expansive, going from about six to 20 years old. You could tell that this was some of the younger children's first time on stage, but they were incredibly professional for their age.

When one of the younger rabbits dropped his rabbit ears, he carried on as normal with the song and choreographed routine, whereas I'm sure at that age I would have just frozen.

The writing and direction was quite ambitious for a children's play, with the chorus of ducks always sitting on the side of the stage to comment on the action. This added an element of self-awareness throughout the entire play, rather than just being an occasional reference to the audience like in pantomime.

This theme was continued when Toad angrily remarked “Do you mind? I’m soliloquizing!” and little additions like this help to keep the adult audience interested.

But of course, the show was an exciting adventure for children too, as the many gurgling laughs and shouts from the audience showed.

The visual element was excellent, with children playing the part of a human boat and the sea in one section, and there must have been more than 50 children as rabbits on stage at once.

Sam Claflin as Ratty
Sam Claflin as Ratty

The lead characters were also excellent, with Daniel Burgess ruling the stage as Toad of Toad Hall and Sam Claflin was a natural as Ratty. Daisy Wood, who played Mrs Otter as well as the travelling rat, shone in her singing parts and projected them with surprising force considering her small stature.

Special mention must be given to Linette Flaxman, who played Toad's horse Alfreda, as well as the clerk of the court and the promiscuous aunt. While her parts weren't major roles, her excellent comic timing made her the core of the play every time she was on stage.

Were it not for such an all round stellar cast, Linette might have stolen the show, but the consistent talent of the young actors and actresses made every scene a joy to watch.

The musical numbers had been put together by Andrew Fletcher, who was clearly an experienced stage composer and, while complex, suited the performance well and the children didn't seem to miss a note throughout the entire production.

Being the first night, there were a few minor hiccups, but by the second act the cast were clearly getting into the swing of things.

Once again, the Youth Theatre Company have produced an excellent production, capturing the essence of the original story. The show is short enough so that children won't get restless and contains enough slices of intelligent humour that older viewers will be as engrossed as younger ones.

If you're a fan of youth theatre, musicals, or even just Wind In The Willows, this is a must-see for the summer.

The Wind In The Willows is on at the Norwich Theatre Royal and runs until Saturday 6 August, 2005. For more information call 01603 630000.

last updated: 06/08/05
Have Your Say
Have you seen Wind In The Willows? What did you think of it?
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Joe press
I was in it It was really good i was a rabbit and a field mice i have been in twenty shows at the theatre royal
Sat Oct 28 17:39:10 2006

beth and hannah
beth: i was in this as a rabbit and feild mice the costumes wernt flattering hannah: i saw this and thought it was good but not the best i've seen
Mon May 8 12:14:45 2006

I was in it and it was amazing working with such talented actors and actresses. It was worth going to 2 rehersals in one day, learning all the moves and all the songwords. I have been at the theatre since i was 7 and now i'm 13, it has really changed my life. The audience this year was great, i have never been in a 1st night performance so it was amazing to hear loads of people to say how good it was, the reviews were amazing, Thank you to everyone involved for making it so enjoyable!
Thu Nov 24 18:10:24 2005

charlie tweed
I was in it and this was the best show of them all that we have done. It was a lot of work but it was worth it. I hope everyone who came to see it enjoyed it as much as we had doing it.
Sat Aug 27 13:55:54 2005

i was in it and it was very good
Sat Aug 27 12:45:27 2005

it was the best show id ever seen and i was in it it is def worth seeing
Fri Aug 26 19:10:44 2005

tara skyring
i think it is a realy great show and i wish i could watch it agian and i would love to meet sam clafin and harry burt and sam is realy cute
Thu Aug 25 10:11:27 2005

It was very good, Daniel was excellent and I enjoyed it right to the end
Wed Aug 24 10:06:43 2005

I am normally in it but this time I went to watch it and was really good!! Daniel was excellent as toad!
Wed Aug 24 10:04:25 2005

Sophie Skyring
I was in it. I was one of the wild wooders - it was great. My favourite actors were Sam Claflin and Freddie Hutchins and my fave actresses were Claire Etheridge and Daisy Wood. Sam and Daisy are great singers - they make your spine shiver. I will never forget how good they were. They really inspired me.
Tue Aug 23 19:51:59 2005

i was in this show as one of the rabbits and field mice and all i can say is it was great working on this production
Sat Aug 13 19:07:29 2005

Kelly Holden
i was in it i found the audience excellent. I enjoyed being a wild wooder the songs we sang were very interesting and they were songs that i found hard to sing well some of them anyway. I have been doing it since i was 8 years old and i am now 14. I will continue doing theatre until hopefully i get picked for doing the youth theatre. THANKS EVERYBODY!!!
Mon Aug 8 18:09:23 2005

Rachel Porter
The Wind In The Willows was the best musical I've seen in a very long while. All of the actors put on a spectacular show and must have worked very hard. It was obviously very well directed and a lot of time must have gone into it. Having a good looking cast also helped (Daniel, Harry and Sam)WELL DONE TO ALL
Sun Aug 7 23:49:26 2005

Sam Claflin
I think people should definately come and see it. It's Windylicious! An enjoyable night out for the whole family.
Sat Aug 6 01:10:54 2005

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