You will know that I love all things visual, so it should come as no surprise that I love the theatre. I was therefore delighted when Mayflower Theatre invited a bunch of SotonBloggers to review the new production of Wind In The Willows.
Toad's need for speed creates an array of mischief and winds him up imprisoned for theft. With his existence under threat from the dangerous Wild Wooders, Toad must attempt a daring escape to defend Toad Hall. Ratty, Badger and Mole join the eccentric Toad to embark on a series of adventures.
Before the show, I thought my review would be something like this; “It is a delightful family show”. Although I still believe it is a fine show for families, I underestimated how much I would enjoy it. It's brilliant. Here are my thoughts, filled with far more excitement than I imagined.
The biggest surprise for me is the comedy aspects. I wasn’t expecting to laugh just as much as I did. I was expecting it to be more "aww what a cute animal running around the stage", when in reality the songs are really funny and the story is full of entertainment. I’d happily recommend this to a bunch of friends for a Friday night.
STAGING AND COSTUME
A+ to the stage design team. One second we see the walls of luxury mansion and the next there is a train larger than my home. Not only is it detailed set design, it also makes regular changes smoothly. As Darth Vader would say; “most impressive”.
My creative eye was scanning the stage constantly, getting tips that I didn't realise I needed in my life!
The costumes don’t attempt to hide that the actors are human. They highlight the features of the animals, then transform them into a human personality. For example, Swallows are played as Vintage Air Hostesses travelling the world.
AS A MUSICAL
Musicals have the risk of making you cringe. they sometimes burst into song quicker than you can say ‘doe a deer a female deer’. [It’s not normal. Imagine that in real life!] I am pleased to say that The Wind In The Willows got the balance. There is no pointless singing for the sake of it.
My favourite musical number is ‘The Hedgehog’s Nightmare’. It shows a family of four hedgehogs trying to cross the road. I smiled and laughed the whole way through! I wish I could have recorded this for you!
They’ve only gone and got comedian Rufus Hound to play Mr Toad - and play it he does. Cheekily bouncing around the stage, he brings the character to life.
He sure as hell isn't the only one shining on stage though. Joining him is the likes of Fra Fee [Les Miserables star], Thomas Howes [Downton Abbey delight], and the fantastic Sophia Nomvete.
Sophia Nomvete has some serious moves.
And as for singing talents; these lot can shhh’ing!
EastEnders bad-boy and Shrek star Neil McDermott played Chief Weasel. Those lungs were quite the impressive kind! He sure did stand out for me.
I have to also mention that I am impressed with the shows celebration of body shapes. It isn’t the shows purpose, but their casting and confidence in their beautiful differences is contagious. It left me wishing my distant fling with Drama Studies lasted longer.
Mayflower Theatre has always been a favourite of mine. It is always jam packed with many of the world’s most sought after shows. As the biggest theatre in the South Coast, I'm always surprised by how close and connected I feel to the stage.
Many thanks to Mayflower Theatre for their kind hospitality. You looked after us perfectly and you have good taste in white wine so I couldn’t say a bad word.
Photo credit: Mayflower Theatre
Honest review: Mayflower Theatre gifted me with the opportunity to review this production. This has absolutely no influence on my opinions made in this post.
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