Taking a trip down to the river or a walk through the woods is always an enjoyable experience, and this was exactly what SOS offered its audience last night as they staged their production of Wind In The Willows. A top quality, entertaining evening out, with strong vocals, slick choreography, creative sets and detailed costumes – what is not to like!
Principles 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!
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.
Although a not very well-known musical score, a highlight was ‘A Friend Is Still A Friend’ sung by Badger, Rat and Mole. Superb harmonies – this really was a beautiful moment in the show. The cast had a lot to learn in terms of the musical score and they certainly did it justice. Diction was lost a little in the group number ‘We’re Taking Over The Hall’, however the whole cast opening with ‘Spring’ blew the audience away. Credit must go to musical director Nigel Finch and his orchestra for the fantastic delivery of this musical score.
Costumes were carefully designed and sourced by Sue Grove, giving an array of colour and groupings on the stage within the different sets of animals.
Set was effective and used to its full potential, a highlight being the little blue boat and the horse and carriage. Simply done and effectively achieved. There were a few technical glitches during the performance with crackling microphones, however the cast never faltered and I am sure this will be rectified for the performances which follow.
Choreography by Susie Maycock was slick, well-rehearsed and creative. It is clear she has thought about her dancers and their ability, especially with the Otters dancing around the boat and the group of Weasels and Stoats. Clever use of a tap dancing horse created the illusion of hooves too.
The whole cast definitely put their all into this production. The Chairman of the group states, “If you are watching and thinking we are enjoying ourselves too much then it is because we are!” and this message was clearly evident during the whole performance. Every cast member looked as though they were enjoying every minute of it – and their hard work certainly paid off!
I for one cannot wait to see the next SOS production! Congratulations to all.
Wind In The Willows runs at Nuffield Theatre Campus until 1 February 2020.
(Editorial: Saturday performances only at 11.00am and 4.00pm)