The cast and creatives behind Julian Fellowes’ new musical adaption of THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS gave theatre fans a first glimpse into the new musical at the official media launch at The Lowry on Monday.
Fra Fee, Neil McDermott and Sophia Nomvete wowed guests with performances of three new musical numbers from the new British production, with theatre producer Jamie Hendry and lyrist Anthony Drewe providing a unique insight into the making of the project.
Based on the classic novel by Kenneth Grahame, THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS tells the story of four friends – Toad, Mole, Ratty and Badger – who embark on a series of adventures and misadventures when Toad’s insatiable need for speed gets out of hand. The new musical theatre adaptation has been three years in the making and a persona; pet project for theatre producer Jamie Hendry.
The award-winning theatre producer commissioned Academy Award-winning screenwriter and DOWNTON ABBEY creator Julian Fellowes and Olivier Award-winning composer and lyricist duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, the team behind the international hit musical MARY POPPINS, after rediscovering Grahame’s classic novel.
With the book is now out of copyright, the team had freedom to adapt the storyline to bring the plot and characters up-to-date. Key iconic moments from the original novel will join new sub-stories and characters to appeal to a modern audience, including a new female character, Mrs Otter, played by Sophia Nomvete.
The sparking new musical also promises spectacular stagecraft, a glorious original score and an all-star cast including cast including comedian, actor and presenter Rufus Hound as the lovable menace Mr Toad, Irish actor and singer Fra Fee as Mole and DOWNTOWN ABBEY’s Thomas Howes as Ratty.
“As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to be involved” explains Howes. “It’s my first professional musical and it’s really exciting”.
The actor who played second footman William Mason in DOWNTON ABBEY admits that he’s started singing lessons – something he hasn’t done for over 10 years – in order to prepare for the role.
Fellow cast members Sophia Nomvete (Mrs Otter), Fra Fee (Mole) and Neil McDermott (Chief Weasel) also showed off their singing skills with their performance of three new musical numbers including A Place to Come Back and We’re Taking Over The Hall.
“It’s a story for all generations” explains Anthony Drewe, lyrist of WIND IN THE WILLOWS.
“Children, Parents and Grandparents will all enjoy it and each will take away something slightly different.”
THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS makes it world premiere at The Lowry on 27 October until 6 November.