Wind in the Willows gets rap make-over for Portsmouth

Harry Jardine & Clive Rowe (l-r) in In The Willows - UK Tour. Photo by Richard Davenport
Harry Jardine & Clive Rowe (l-r) in In The Willows - UK Tour. Photo by Richard Davenport

Olivier Award-winning actor Clive Rowe is Mr Badger in a vibrant new take on The Wind In The Willows, one which drops the wind from the title.

“But the wind hasn’t disappeared,” insists Clive. “The wind is still there. They just felt that In The Willows was more relevant.”

The show comes to Portsmouth’s New Theatre Royal from March 7-9 (http://newtheatreroyal.com).

With spectacular street dance choreographed by the award-winning Rhimes Lecointe, the production will also star deaf street dancer Chris Fonseca, incorporating British Sign Language into the choreography for a unified experience for deaf and hearing audiences alike. There will also be audio description available for all performances across the tour.

The piece starts with Mole’s first day in The Willows. Her classmates look a bit scary. Surely Mr Badger will look out for her, as streetwise Rattie, rich kid Toad and cheeky Otter teach her the ways of The Riverbank. But when Toad gets locked up for joyriding, the Weasel Clan break into his (lily)pad. It's now only a matter of time before Chief Weasel reveals Mole’s dark secret...

Featuring ballads, beats and backflips, it comes promised as a new musical which will be fun for the whole family.

“It is still The Wind in the Willows,” Clive says. “It is exactly the same story. Poppy Burton-Morgan, the director and producer, has been very true to the narrative, but has set it in a modern-day school for 16 and 17-year-olds.

“I play Badger, the teacher. We are all human… and we are all animals. There is a thin line between the two. But from my point of view, bringing it into the modern day makes it more relevant to young adults today.”

The tour is all new: “It hasn’t been done before apart from in workshops. I did one workshop before and I loved the script and then I heard the music and I loved the music. It just seemed more relevant. I know I keep using that word a lot, but it is not patronising. From what I know of that generation, it is something that they would relate to.

“The whole piece is done as rap. It is spoken to music all the way through, but each character has their own voice within it. My voice is more bluesy and a bit more souly. The whole thing is stunning. I am obviously going to say that it is stunning, but it is. It is vibrant and it is exciting.”

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