Review: Wind in the Willows at The Alnwick Garden

Performed on an outdoor stage which perfectly highlights the heart warming story of forest animals, this production of the family classic, Wind in the Willows, is definitely one watch to watch this summer for all ages.
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You will go home singing the catchy tunes to this captivating performance that takes the audience on a journey through the seasons, as Mole, Ratty, Badger and Mr Toad explore the Wide World and Wide Wood, and have a great battle for Toad Hall.

The story follows Mole who, after leaving home, meets and befriends the charming Ratty at the riverbank, and from there, the two start their summer adventure, coming across grumpy Badger and of course the infamous Mr Toad, who everyone soon discovers is a handful with a knack for getting into trouble. In this particular story, Mr Toad becomes obsessed with driving a Motorcar, something that inevitably gets him in trouble, and whilst his destructive nature causes his fellow woodland friends to be distressed, there were plenty of giggles from children in the audience, who find the eccentric Mr Toad and his new favourite catchphrase “poop-poop” quite funny.

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The whole show was energetic, full of fun musical numbers, and a delight to watch, as nothing seemed to dampen Mole’s spirit who finally experiences the world above the ground.

The musicians who provided all of the music and sound effects throughout the showThe musicians who provided all of the music and sound effects throughout the show
The musicians who provided all of the music and sound effects throughout the show

The music, made up of a range of instruments, is impressively performed live on stage by four of the cast members, who also play different minor roles throughout the story to really make the most out of a small main cast. However, it does also include an ensemble of 24 young people playing rabbits, weasels, otters, squirrels and a hedgehog, who do an amazing job performing alongside the professional cast, supported by Alnwick Youth Theatre.

Alnwick Playhouse Artistic Director, Damien Cruden, had previously said: “It's great to be working alongside the Queen’s Hall and The Alnwick Garden to create this fantastic new version of The Wind in the Willows. Drawing on the creativity of the region, a young people's company of hedgehogs, weasels and stoats will help us to create a memorable trip to the theatre for the whole family.”

Due to the small outdoor stage, the cast utilise all of the space to their advantage, really bringing the story to life. When the musicians aren’t playing a character role, they provide the ambient music and sound effects to set the scenes, and I often heard the the gentle whistling sound of a violin behind me as the violinist crept around behind the audience.

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Before entering, you can purchase something to eat and/or drink from a stand, including ice cream, sweets, soft drinks and a selection of alcoholic beverages.

Ratty, Mr Toad and Mole behind the scenes.Ratty, Mr Toad and Mole behind the scenes.
Ratty, Mr Toad and Mole behind the scenes.

Please check the weather forecast beforehand, as the Northumbrian weather does tend to be temperamental and the show must go on even in the slight drizzle. However, in the event of particularly adverse weather conditions, the show may be taken to the Alnwick Playhouse instead, and all changes are communicated quickly.

The performance will be at the open air theatre at The Alnwick Garden from August 2 until 26, at approximately two hours long.

There are also relaxed and British Sign Language Interpreted performances.

Tickets start from £16.50. Use code: FAMILYFUN20 for 20 per cent off! You can book on the Alnwick Garden website.

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