Casting has been revealed for the major new musical theatre adaptation of The Wind in the Willows head of its world premiere at Theatre Royal in Plymouth from 8 October 2016, followed by dates at The Lowry in Salford and the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, prior to opening in London’s West End.
Comedian, actor and presenter Rufus Hound will star as the lovable menace Mr Toad in this highly-anticipated new musical production alongside Irish actor and singer Fra Fee as Mole, Downton Abbey’s Thomas Howes as Ratty, EastEnders bad-boy and Shrek star Neil McDermott as Chief Weasel and Sophia Nomvete as Mrs Otter, with further casting still to be announced.
The full cast will include Rakesh Boury, Courtney Bowman, Jenna Boyd, Abigail Brodie, Jorell Coiffic-Kamall, Nicole Deon, James Gant, Evan James, Graham Lappin, Michael Larcombe, Bethany Linsdell, Dylan Mason, Emma Odell, Ryan Pidgen, Patrick Sullivan, Karli Vale, Adam Vaughan, Georgie Westall and Holly Willock.
Based on Kenneth Grahame’s treasured novel which has captivated generations of readers for over a century, The Wind in the Willows has been adapted for the stage with a book by Academy Award-winning screenwriter and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and Olivier Award-winning composer and lyricist duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. Fellowes, Stiles and Drewe previously collaborated together on the hugely successful international hit musical Mary Poppins which ran for three years in the West End and six years on Broadway and on a new version of Half a Sixpence, soon to open at the Chichester Festival Theatre.
Rufus Hound says: “I – like so many of us – was weaned on The Wind in the Willows, so this is an incredibly special opportunity. Bringing these adventures to a brand new audience is almost as exciting as a gleaming new motorcar. Roll on rehearsals! Poop poop!”
Julian Fellowes adds: “This new adaptation has been such a joy to write, and we have pulled together a really marvellous array of extraordinary talent in casting the production. I’ve no doubt that our actors are going to have the time of their lives taking these memorable characters on the journey from page to stage. I hope and believe the audience will have a lot of fun!”
Rufus Hound is an actor, presenter and comedian, most recently seen on stage in Don Quixote (Royal Shakespeare Company), The Wars of the Roses (Rose Theatre) and as Freddy in the original West End production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Savoy Theatre). Additional theatre credits include Neville’s Island (Chichester Festival Theatre), One Man Two Guv’nors (UK tour/Theatre Royal Haymarket) and Utopia (Soho Theatre).
Fra Fee most notably played the role of Courfeyrac in Tom Hooper’s box office hit movie Les Misérables. Theatre credits include As You Like It (National Theatre), The Last Five Years (Lyric Theatre, Belfast); Romeo & Juliet (Gate Theatre); Candide (Menier Chocolate Factory); Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre) and Dirty Dancing (Aldwych Theatre).
Thomas Howes is best known for his role as footman Thomas in Downton Abbey. Stage work includes The Lighthouse (Birmingham Contemporary Music Group), The Mousetrap (UK Tour), The Winslow Boy (Theatre Royal Bath) and The History Boys (UK tour).
Neil McDermott is most known for portraying Ryan Malloy in EastEnders (BBC). Stage credits include playing Lord Farquaad in Shrek The Musical (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), Jean-Michel in La Cage Aux Folles (Menier Chocolate Factory) and Rolf Gruber in The Sound of Music (London Palladium).
Produced by Jamie Hendry and MJE Productions in association with Theatre Royal Plymouth, The Wind in the Willows is directed by Rachel Kavanaugh with design by Peter McKintosh, choreography by Aletta Collins, lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design by Gareth Owen and musical supervision by Simon Lee.