In the words of the Chicago Sun-Times critic, this show is "one of the wisest and most delightful productions to grace a Chicago stage this season … Douglas Post has crafted a poetic, deeply intelligent, and hilariously funny script with lyrics to match. He has also composed a magical and eclectic score that runs the gamut from haunting English ballads and rippling reggae to tongue-in-cheek punk and lilting Latin congas." Produced at over 200 theaters across the country, this musical tells the story of the friendship of the good-hearted Water Rat, the shy and curious Mole, and the sensible Badger. What tests that friendship are the antics of Mr. Toad, a wily and impulsive animal given to sudden crazes such as stealing motor cars and driving them recklessly around the countryside. Their task is to save Toad from himself and then rescue the magnificent Toad Hall from the devious weasels, ferrets and stoats.
- Type of Show Musical
- Product Code W05000
- Cast Size 13
- Min. Royalty Rate $80/perf
- Cost $9.95
- Approx. Run Time 105 min
- Target Audience Young Audiences | Middle School | High School | College and Adult | Family (all ages) | Senior Adults
- Performing Group Middle School | High School | College Theatre | Community Theatre | Professional Theatre | TYA | Senior Theatre | Touring Group | Dinner Theatre
- Genre Comedy
- ISBN(13) 9780871291721
- "A wonderful junior high show with great leading roles (non gender-specific) and possibilities for small ensembles. The music is fantastic!"
- Review by Jim Thomas, West Irondequoit Middle School, Rochester, NY
- "The Wind in the Willows turned out to be a delightful production that the kids had a lot of fun doing, and the audience was charmed."
- Review by Jeanann Power, Edgebrook Community Church, Chicago, IL
- "The music was very singable for young voicesÑand people walked off humming the melodies. Because most of the creatures were animals, I felt free to do gender-blind casting for many animals, which worked very well. It was a highly enjoyable family show, seen by many children, performed on request for our entire middle school."
- Review by Debra Dion Faust, Ipswich High School, Ipswich, Mass.
- "The play is a musical version of the classic story by Kenneth Grahame. The adaptation is excellent and the music is some of the best I've seen in a musical. Really! Every song is good and there is so much creative potential."
- Review by Kate Golden, Seattle Waldorf School, Seattle, Wash.
- "This show was the very first musical ever put on at Walton-Verona High School and it was a huge hit! The students loved the music, and the story was light and fun for audience members of all ages. The Wind in the Willows offered very appropriate challenges in all areas (acting, stage and prop design, music) for my students who have a very wide range of theater experiences. It was fun to prepare and a joy to perform."
- Review by Erin Core-Stine, Walton-Verona High School, Walton, Ky.
- "Kenneth Grahame's writing is beautiful and timeless. Our cast of 9- to 15-year-olds had fun speaking in British accents and learning about the English countryside. Doug Post's adaptation takes the audience through all the well-remembered adventures of Mr. Toad, Ratty and Mole. The music was interesting and had diverse styles. Our audiences loved it!"
- Review by Gail Bartell, Mount Dora Theatre Company, Mount Dora, Fla.
- "We love this play. This is the third time we have produced it, and it never fails to provide a challenge to our actors and a delightful afternoon for our audiences."
- Review by Jo Anne Lamun, Peanut Butter Players, Lafayette, Colo.
Hints, Tips, and Tricks
- "My musical adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's rich and colorful novel has now had over 250 productions around the world and, although I have only been involved in a dozen or so stagings of the work, I would like to think that I've learned a thing or two in my time along the river bank.
What should the set look like?
The show is written in the form of story theater. Members of the company are called upon to narrate the play and occasionally comment on their own actions as well as the actions of others. I believe this helps to create an informal and presentational style of playing whereby the audience is asked to imagine more than can actually be realized on stage. They must invest themselves in the story. In light of this, I believe that a simple unit set that speaks for the natural world and the environment of the woodlands, and to which minimal pieces of scenery and furniture can be added and subtracted, is far more effective than attempting to literally create a river bank, a forest, Badger's house and so on. That being said, the setting does need to have some sense of surprise allowing for a variety of entrances and exits. When Mole first pops his head out of Mole End that should be a surprise. When Badger's front door is revealed to us that should be a surprise. And the trap door that leads from the underground passage right up into the middle of Toad Hall should certainly come as a shock. But the play should be performed in as fluid a fashion as possible, so the less fuss with sets and props, the better.
What about the costumes?
I would discourage any company from literally attempting to construct animals on stage. The actors I have worked with wore standard British garb of the early twentieth century. Toad was decked out as a gregarious playboy. Rat, Mole, Otter and Badger dressed as gentlemen of the country. The Field Mice and Hedgehogs were garbed as schoolchildren. And the Wildwooders wore clothes appropriate to the lower classes - coal miners, chimney sweeps and such. No animal makeup was used. Only through specific movement and gesture were the characteristics of the animals suggested.
Any thoughts on accents?
I believe that a good dialect coach is almost a necessity as I think much of the humor and poetry of the play is lost if it is not performed with British accents. Call me a snob. I have also discovered that the text is best served if it moves at a fairly good pace, pausing only to allow for some of the more heartfelt moments.
How many actors does it take to make this musical happen?
I wrote the show to be performed by a cast of fourteen (eight men and six women), although I have since staged it with thirteen (seven and six). I think this allows the company to have a great deal of fun with the multiple casting of the characters. However, there is no good reason why more actors can't be added to fill out the ranks. I have seen productions with twenty or thirty people on stage. And I have been sent programs from certain schools where it seems that half of the student body must have been involved. So it is certainly possible to think big. Incidentally, I chose to cast the role of Mr. Mole against gender. I'm not sure why it worked so well to have a woman play this part, but it did. I have also always cast the role of Chief Weasel with an actress. The songs of these two characters are written for female voices, so I would encourage you to keep that in mind as you proceed.
What sort of research should a company do before they proceed with a production?
There can be no greater source of inspiration for any production of this musical than Grahame's own book. It is a masterpiece. And it will reveal to you much more about the characters, the setting and the action of the story than I have, for reasons of space and time, been able to include."
- Tip by Douglas Post Adapter & Composer of The Wind in the Wi
Media Reviews"A charming original score by Douglas Post whose songs warm the heart while neatly prodding the intellect." -Chicago Tribune
"A song-dream for audiences of any age … Post is not afraid to blend overt, raffish comedy with quiet reflection, even a sense of spirituality." -Chicago Reader
"Douglas Post's music and lyrics will go a long way toward reconciling us to rodents … the music ranges from sweetly melodic to snappy… the title theme is lovely." -The New York Times
"The delicacy of a porcelain tea cup and the fine detail of lace." -Chicago Sun-Times
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