The Wind In The Willows has finally arrived at London’s Palladium Theatre.
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, Olivier Award-winning composer and lyricist George Stiles and Anthony Drewe come together to create a modern musical based on Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows.
Sitting in the front row of the royal circle we had a great view of the stage. The palladium theatre brings back memories of some first-rate shows: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Scrooge with Bermondsey boy Tommy Steele, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat with 90’s heartthrob Jason Donovan and A Chorus Line. I was excited to experience a childhood favourite come to life as a musical.
The staging was fantastic and very clever with rotating revealing interiors/exteriors seamlessly moving from one scene to another.
It’s a loud and energetic, attempting to cover up a very simple story line which is totally dependent on the amusing characters of the story. There seems to hardly be time for the characters to develop as the singing and dancing takes the place of dialogue. This wouldn’t have been a problem had the songs been a little more heavyweight and had not lacked a certain sparkle. If a little more effort would have been spent on developing the characters and charm it could then have been a much more relaxing and fun show.
Simon Lipkin (Ratty) and Neil McDermott (Chief Weasel) were, for me, the stand out principle performers due to their fine singing abilities and McDermott’s enviable energy. Who knew pinstripes could look so good?! James Gant (posh car owner and Mr Hedgehog), Natalie Woods (Horse + stoat) and Jenna Boyd (Mrs Hedgehog + washer woman) were the real stars of the show. Their combination of acting and vocal talents made it a worthwhile trip for me.
All in all, I would recommend this to others, especially family groups as the younger audience members certainly were enjoying it. But for me it lacked the goosebumps I hope to experience from a major West-End show.
9 September 2017
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Hazel Baker is a qualified CIGA Tour Guide who delivers guided walks and private tours in London. View all of Hazel’s walking tours.