When Mole plucks up the courage to explore the Riverbank with his friend Ratty, nothing can prepare him for the adventure that awaits.
Join them as producer and director James Weisz takes The Wind in the Willows on the road, promising a musical adaptation capturing all the wit and adventure of Kenneth Grahame’s novel.
The show is at Brighton Open Air Theatre, July 5-9, 2pm and 7pm; and Lewes Castle, July 21, 22, 23 at 7pm. Visit www.ticketsource.co.uk/willows2017.
Playing Toad is Doug Devaney.
“I am a semi-regular with the company. I have done The Jungle Book with James, and I wrote a couple of pantomimes for him. The ethos of the company is to bring family entertainment through theatre. It’s to bring classic family stories to life on the stage. And it is not just for children. As with the best family entertainment, it is about entertaining several different age groups all in different ways, all at the same time. It is quite a juggling act. But basically, The Wind in the Willows is a bit like a pantomime. It is quite intimate.
“When we are performing first of all at BOAT (Brighton Open Air Theatre), we have to try to have that intimacy. We want to try to involve the audience as much as possible with regards the direction, but not necessarily through audience participation. Really it is easier to do than to say!”
As for Toad, there’s nothing much wrong with Toad, Doug insists: “Toad is just hugely enthusiastic. He loves life. Perhaps a little too well and not very wisely. But he loves life, and I don’t think there is any real harm in Toad. He doesn’t think about things. It is his devil may care and damn the consequences mentality. He loves the idea of adventure, and the first thing he does is to try to get them to mess about on the river. He is a child in a man’s mind.
“To play him, I have got to get in touch with my inner toad. I am doing a lot of method acting, obviously. I have gathered a lot of warts and you can see me hanging around on common ground near ponds. You’ve got to do it!”
But does he learn any lessons from it all? Probably not, suspects Doug.
“He learns lessons maybe, but I have the strangest feeling that tomorrow he will have forgotten everything he has learnt today and be back to his same old self. Toad is eternal. You can’t get away from his enthusiasm, and sometimes his enthusiasm will get the better of him, but that’s just his nature.
“There are a lot of archetypes in the show. You have got the innocent and the experienced. You have got the teacher and the pupil. And you have got Toad who just loves to live, and then he messes up and his friends help him out. That’s the magic of the story, that it is about friendship and forgiveness. The adult part of it, the simple morality of it is that sometimes we can all be snarling at each other and simply forget that a bit of friendship and forgiveness go a long way.”
To find out more about the Brighton show visit www.brightonopenairtheatre.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07802 299267.
For Lewes Castle visit www.sussexpast.co.uk or call 01273 486290.
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