Full disclosure. I don’t think I’ve ever read or seen The Wind In The Willows before. I didn’t know this until I walked into the new musical version at the London Palladium this week but I realised I didn’t have a clue what the story was about.
A mole goes out for a walk and meets a water rat. Together they visit a fad obsessed Toad who likes to steal cars. Deciding he is spiralling out of control, they seek the help of Badger to stop Toad from the self destructive downward spiral he is on. Unable to make Toad see sense, the inevitable happens and he gets arrested and sent to prison for his crimes. Can Toad see the error of his ways and make a mends with all his friends and live happily ever after? Of course he can, this is a children’s story.
The cast is led by Rufus Hound who plays the irritatingly over energetic Toad. He is a bundle of energy and seems to be having a blast in the role. Gary Wilmot gives a stand out performance as the old wise Badger and although it is a small part (not being seen until the end of act 1) it is brilliantly performed and you can’t help but fall in love with his character. Stealing the show without a doubt are Ratty and Mole played by Simon Lipkin and Craig Mather giving the best performances all round and are a great pairing. Denise Welch gives a nice performance as Mrs Otter, although at times she appears to struggle with her lines and her vocals were not as strong as they needed to be at times. Oh, and I particularly loved the Hedgehog family and the adorable scene where they tried to cross the road! My heart melted.
The Wind In The Willows is a lot of fun. It nicely bridges the gap between children’s shows and adult shows, providing something for older children and their families to enjoy. There are some beautiful songs written by composing duo Stiles and Drewe and the colourful set design and animal costumes are nicely done with great effect.
This may not be the greatest story ever told but it is a well loved classic that has been beautifully brought to life on stage. You’d be mad to miss it this Summer at the London Palladium.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
The Wind In The Willows plays at the London Palladium until 9 September 2017.