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Musical that tells its own unique tale of Wind in the Willows to be performed at Queen's Theatre

PUBLISHED: 15:00 24 April 2019

In The Willows Production. Picture: Richard Davenport

In The Willows Production. Picture: Richard Davenport

The Other Richard

Did you grow up reading The Wind in the Willows?

Harry Jardine and Clive Rowe in the production of In The Willows. Picture: Richard DavenportHarry Jardine and Clive Rowe in the production of In The Willows. Picture: Richard Davenport

Well I can guarantee you that you've never seen it like this before as the classic tale is brought leaping into the 21st century with In The Willows, which will be performed at the Queen's Theatre at the end of next month.

The story is based around Mole's first day at The Willows school and how streetwise Rattie, rich kid Toad and cheeky Otter teach her the ways of The Riverbank with Mr Badger keeping a watchful eye on everyone.

But when Toad gets locked up for joyriding, the Weasel Clan break into his (lily) pad and it's only a matter of time before Chief Weasel reveals Mole's dark secret.

Starring in the family musical is Olivier Award winner, former star of children's TV series Tracy Beaker as well as several pantomimes at the Hackney Empire theatre Clive Rowe who plays strict but lovable teacher Mr Badger.

The cast of In The Willows. Picture: Richard DavenportThe cast of In The Willows. Picture: Richard Davenport

He said: “When I got the script - it felt new.

“I didn't really know the original story - all I remembered was Toad, Rattie, something with a car and Badger - but this version, this musical - it's so effortlessly modern - so relatable, and so brilliantly accessible to kids - without talking down to them.

“Once I got into the workshop and realised there was a deaf character and integrated British Sign Language - it was beautiful.

“I'm a big supporter of new musicals generally but I just thought it was amazing - it is amazing - this show really is being made for everyone.”

The show, which is being produced by the Metta Theatre and Exeter Northcott Theatre, also stars Chris Fonseca who appeared on this year's BBC One's The Greatest Dancer.

Chris, who is deaf in real life, will play Otter in this classic story with a modern twist.

“[Otter] is a very cool and humble guy, as well as an excellent street dancer!

“Otter and his girlfriend Rattie (the most popular girl at school), help new-girl Mole learn the ways of the Riverbank.

“Otter is a great influence who likes to look after his friends. He's also deaf and proud to be!”

Chris stunned the dance captains Strictly Come Dancing's Oti Mabuse, Glee's Matthew Morrison and singer Cheryl on the talent show, who feels the vibration in the music to perform.

He said: “I remember I was nervous when my name was first called before the start of my audition.

“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me: a moment where I can give my all, to shine my light hard and show what I can do to represent for myself, the deaf dance community and deaf community, whilst on a popular TV platform.

“The support I've received is overwhelming, and beyond amazing.”

With ballads, beats and backflips, this fresh new musical that puts its own spin on a very well known story, will be fun for the whole family.

Clive added: “I've been doing the same warm up for 31 years.

“It lasts 16 minutes - that's all you need.

“Well actually my full routine, which people don't know about - first thing in the morning I do stretching for my core and legs, whether or not I'm performing.

“Then a vocal warm up in the shower for 13 minutes.

“Then my 16 minute warm up and then I'll join the company on stage later for the group vocal warm up.

“The music [in the show] always captures who it's coming from - it's never music for music's sake.

“And best of all - I don't think the music is like any other musical I've heard.”

In The Willows will be performed at the Queen's Theatre, Billet Lane, Hornchurch, from Wednesday, May 22, to Sunday, May 26.

For more information on the show and to purchase tickets, visit queens-theatre.co.uk

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