Remember The Wind in The Willows by Kenneth Grahame? This sweet and simple musical is based on that story, put to music by Piers Chater Robinson.
What it’s about
Over two acts, we watch as the wealthy and magnanimous Mr Toad becomes obsessed with motor cars and addicted to reckless driving. His friends Rat, Mole and Badger intervene, with unhelpful sabotage by a nasty pack of ill-intentioned weasels – and both chaos and jail time ensue.
What to expect
In Mr Toad you’ll encounter a large, camp and self-satisfied personality – reminiscent, at least to me, of smugly oblivious local politicians (complete with comrades) – brought to life with gusto by Gamelihle Bovana.
‘Let’s Jump Aboard’ and ‘Weasel’s Reign’ are great, as are ‘Goodbye Toad’ and ‘Off A-Bashin’. Along the way, the cast leads you through a great deal of slapstick and craziness, smoothed over with unusual polish from a young ensemble that extends to mini actors from the NCT’s kiddie theatre workshops.
If you’re an NCT regular, you may recall the costumes and stagecraft that so iconically informed this theatre’s A Year with Frog and Toad in 2015, but you’ll delight equally in the cleverly hinged horizontal props and in the traditional English tweediness that is so true to the genre of The Wind in The Willows.
Highlights include the courthouse scene and the fight scene – notable for their catchy lyrics, great singing, clever choreography and humour. Many of the children in the audience were actually howling with glee and mine, in particular, insisted on recounting and reciting ‘amusing’ Toad one-liners all the way home.
I enjoyed the Elvis/Grease-inspired Chief Weasel, portrayed with sideburned skill by Gareth Meijsen, and the magnificent voice of Senzesihle Radebe as the Magistrate. Look out, too, for the wonderfully snooty accent, costume and make-up of Badger, played by JT Medupe, and the sparkling charm and not-lost-for-a-second effusiveness shown by talented Kirsty Marillier in all of her varied roles.
The Adventures of Mr Toad is cute, un-scary and very simple. Plus, there are forest animals, riverside folk, and motor cars. So I’d take little ones from age 3 upwards.
The show details
The run ends on 23 July 2017 (Tue-Sun during school holidays). There are 10.30am and 2.30pm shows of 90 minutes each (with an intermission). And you’ll find it at 3 Junction Avenue, Parktown. Book via firstname.lastname@example.org