Last week saw the Richard Whiteley Theatre transformed into Giggleswick's very own portion of the quaint English countryside complete with riverbank, wild wood and country manor. The Junior School Production of The Wind in the Willows was a beautiful and quaint jaunt, perfect for getting the audience in the spirit of summer. The infamous Mr. Toad, played with lashings of confidence and professionalism by Phoebe Cook, led us on a journey of his disastrous obsession with motor cars - much to the frustration of his friends Ratty (Archie Clark), Mole (Robyn McChesney) and Badger (Amelia West). This talented and engaging quartet of performers were matched by the hugely engaging ensemble cast of animals, narrators, train passengers, river people, a jury and even a couple of delivery men to name just a few!
Josie Wells, Musical Director said: “We are immensely proud of all our pupils. So much time and effort was put into learning their lines and practising the songs to create such wonderful individual characters. They worked as a team to support each other and gained so much from the whole experience. It has been the highlight of the year for the whole school.”
It was an extremely talented cast who brought the stage alive with their characterisation. Stand-out performances include Elodie Martin as the very comical, and very cockney, policeman, Charlie Yule as the dastardly Chief Weasel and Jack Hall and Henry Shuttleworth as the two prisoners trying to cheer up Mr Toad after he found himself in the clink following his latest automobile-related incident. A daring jail break ensued and, once reunited with his companions, the battle to reclaim Toad Hall from the paws of the wicked weasels commenced with our recently rehabilitated Toad leading the charge. Cue a Benny Hill-style chase scene complete with the can-can theme from the band fuelling things on – much to the audience's delight as they clapped along.
There was excellent singing all round and some very catchy songs with the audience showing off their dance moves at one point! The band, led by Josie Wells, were small but mighty and led the forceful chorus numbers and stunning solos. The set design by Nicole McGoldrick was magical and brought the world of the play alive with beautiful attention to detail. Sue Butler masterfully directed the cast of young performers in this high-quality performance and there were plenty of hidden gems to find throughout. A particular favourite was Ratty and his pals fighting over tea and cakes during Badger's song!
Gareth Warburton, Head of Performing Arts said: “It was a wonderful production with beautiful design, which really set the scene for a fantastic performance. As an ensemble, the young students equitted themselves brilliantly turning in fantastic performances musically and in terms of their acting skills, and the lead characters were outstanding. To see such maturity, confidence and talent in pupils so young was heartwarming and shows great potential for the future.”
James Mundell, Headmaster added: “Seeing the children all looking so happy and confident, and thoroughly relishing the opportunity to perform was wonderful to see. Congratulations and thanks should also go to the fantastic work of the production team”
In the words of Mr. Toad: “Oh bliss, oh poop poop, oh my!”