AHEAD of the Norbury Theatre’s production of Alan Bennett’s Wind in the Willows, Standard editor Tristan Harris headed down to the rehearsals to catch up with the director and cast for a podcast special.
THE CLASSIC tale is set on the riverbank and in the ‘wild wood’ and centres on the adventures of four contrasting characters – the humble Mole, the cultured and laid back Rat, the uncompromising Mr Badger and of course the eccentric Mr Toad of Toad Hall.
The production will be the first full show Alex Stallard has directed, having previously come through the Norbury Youth Theatre ranks.
He said: “I fell in love with the show after seeing the BBC’s adaption and bought the script on a whim.”
After successfully co-directing the History Boys, Alex suggested Wind in the Willows and has been planning the production since February last year.
“I was quite lucky with the casting – I wanted it to be a real community show and to have as many people as possible who wanted to be in it.”
There are 22 cast members with the youngest being eight and the oldest at 71.
“The rehearsals have been going well, although it has been a bit of a challenge as we have had the Easter holidays in the middle so some people have been away.”
The show is suitable for those aged six and over as, Alex admits, they have chosen to make the villain chief – the Weasel – ‘a tad scary’.
With his cast and crew sorted, the next stage was the set (or should that be ‘sett’).
Alex said: “I set a few challenges for the crew with what I wanted.
“There’s Ratty’s house which is very nautical looking, then there’s Moley’s burrow, a barge, a car, a train, a rowing boat and a caravan.
“We will have a very busy side of stage,” he added.
Ratty will be played by Michael Treagust whose last role at the Norbury was the fated Bishop of Basingstoke in Jekyll and Hyde.
He has also been in shows with Astwood Bank Operatics, including Carousel.
He said: “I loved all the characters in Wind in the Willows but I chose Ratty because I felt I could do more with the role.
“He is a traditional and stereotypical British character where, whatever is going on, he has to keep a stiff upper lip. Everything is fine – even when it’s not.
“I’d also been growing my whiskers for a previous role so just kept growing them for Ratty.
“I think I’ll celebrate the end of the run with a shave,” he said.
Click the link below to listen to more from Alex and Michael on this Droitwich Standard Podcast Special.
In this Bromsgrove & Droitwich Standard Podcast Special Tristan chats to actor Michael Treagust and director Alex Stallard ahead of the forthcoming Norbury Theatre production of Wind in the Willows.
Posted by Bromsgrove Standard on Thursday, 25 April 2019
Performances are at 7.30pm from Thursday to Saturday, May 2 to 4, and the following Thursday to Saturday, May 9 to 11.
Visit norburytheatre.co.uk or call 01905 770154 for more information and tickets.