Words by Julian Fellowes & Anthony Drewe and Music by George Stiles
NST Campus,
January 2020
Director: Rachel Pike
Cast List
Mrs Otter
Chief Weasel
Sheryl Stoat
Gaoler's Daughter
Lesser Weasel
Mr Hedgehog / Magistrate
Mrs Hedgehog

Notes on this performance

134. The Wind in the Willows

Badger, Ratty, Mole and a baby Pike…

There was an unusual air of optimism surrounding the Society at the beginning of the season, the two previous shows had made profits and the group had moved from its expensive scenery store  – quite a wrench after 50 years but as it was not being used very often, it meant that sets had to be hired in addition to paying rent.

At the AGM Paul Dawson-Plincke was elected Chairman and Nicky Paterson took over as Secretary from the retiring Suzie Pavitt – her departure meant that for the first time in 19 years there would not be a Pavitt on the Committee!

The Wind in the Willows had been selected as the winter show with the directing team of Nigel Finch and Rachel Pike reforming to bring it to the NST Campus stage (aided by Susie Maycock as Choreographer and Assistant Director). It was likely to be the last production in that theatre for a while, as it was due to have a complete refurbishment. A bigger complication was that Rachel was expecting and the baby’s due date was shortly before the show – any delay in the birth would not only remove Rachel from the scene but also Matt, her husband, who had been allocated the role of Mole. It was thought necessary to nominate an understudy who could learn the part and fill the void at the last moment if necessary.

Happily, all went to plan, baby Olivia Pike made her appearance with time to spare and the production received rave reviews. Scene 1+ described it as ‘A top quality, entertaining evening out, with strong vocals, slick choreography, creative sets and detailed costumes – what is not to like!

Principals of the cast were brilliantly chosen for their roles, with the energetic and bouncy Toad (Richard Peaty) always trying to get in the spotlight! Russell Dutton perfectly played the role of Ratty and his smooth singing voice was a pleasure to listen to. Mike Pavitt (Badger) was credible and strong in characterisation, again with a lovely tone to his singing voice, which went well with Ratty and Mole. Young Amy Marsden who played Portia the Otter opened the show with her splendid voice, and she delivered her lines with diction and confidence. One to watch in future productions I feel!’

The reviewer had special praise for the new father and declared, ‘One person who, for me, stole the show was Mole played with confidence and excellence by Matthew Pike. The audience fell in love with his ‘mole-like’ characteristics and not once did he step away from this character. He was absolutely the right person for this part and should feel immensely proud of his performance. His singing voice was idyllic.’ Strangely this reviewer seems to have missed the performance of Peter Lavery as the Chief Weasel but a different critic identified him as ‘clearly a young talent to be watched.’

Money was again saved by delaying the Get In until the less expensive Monday and then playing for just four days – the Saturday featured two performances at ‘child friendly’ times (11am and 4:00 pm) and this approach showed dividends as The Wind in the Willows made a moderate but very welcome profit of £3116.

Terry O'Farrell

wiw20 1

                                    Matthew Pike (Mole) and Russell Dutton with some dancing Otters

wiw20 2

                                                         Matthew Pike (Mole) and Richard Peaty (Toad)

wiw20 3

                                       Mike Pavitt (Badger), Russell Dutton (Ratty) and Matthew Pike (Mole)

wiw20 4

                                                                        Richard Peaty (Toad)

wiw20 5

                              The Wild Wooders led by Peter Lavery (Chief Weasel) in the striped suit

wiw20 6

                                      The Trial with (centre) Richard Peaty (Toad) and Jonathan Fulcher (Magistrate)

wiw20 7

                                                               Richard Peaty (Toad) with Paul Dawson-Plincke