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Full casting announced for The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the WillowsMARTIN HARVEY, CRIS PENFOLD, IRA MANDELA SIOBHAN, AND SONYA CULLINGFORD JOIN ALAN TITCHMARSH TO COMPLETE THE CAST OF OLIVIER AWARD-WINNING THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS

THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE’S PRODUCTION RETURNS TO LONDON’S WEST END THIS CHRISTMAS FROM 26 NOVEMBER 2014

The Wind in the Willows is delighted to announce full casting for the Christmas 2014 production today. The cast join previously announced Alan Titchmarsh who makes his West End debut starring as the narrator.

Martin Harvey will take on the role of Ratty. Harvey’s extensive dance career has included numerous principal roles with The Royal Ballet from Mayerling, Onegin and La Fille mal gardée, to Manon and Romeo and Juliet. Harvey’s acting credits include his award-winning performance as Johnny Castle in the West End production of Dirty Dancing as well as multiple roles in New York, including Richard Eyre’s production of Carmen for the Metropolitan Opera, Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly Away and David Michalek’s Portraits in Dramatic Time. Completing the riverbank’s woodland quartet, Cris Penfold returns to the cast to resume his role as Toad, Ira Mandela Siobhan will play Badger and Sonya Cullingford will play Mole, returning to the cast after performing in the original production. Other members of the company include: Ewan Wardrop, Kayleigh Gore, Jay Webb, Alastair Postlewaite, Jessica Ellen, Rachael Mossom, Jo Meredith and Aron Wild.

This well-loved story is brought to life through song, music, dance and puppetry. The production, directed and choreographed by Will Tuckett, makes its return to the West End after an Olivier Award-winning run last Christmas. The production will be at the Vaudeville Theatre from Wednesday 26 November 2014 to Saturday 17 January 2015.

Will Tuckett’s critically acclaimed production transferred to the Duchess Theatre in December 2013, presented by CMP, and marked the Royal Opera House’s first commercial transfer, a significant first for the organisation. The production, which was named Best Entertainment and Family at the 2014 Olivier Awards, will this year run for eight weeks at the Vaudeville Theatre.

Based on Kenneth Grahame’s timeless classic, the adventures of four woodland friends are retold through dance, song, music and puppetry. From a dusty old attic a wonderful tale unfolds; the peaceful riverbank world is rocked by a speeding car, a racing train and criminal deeds cooked up in the Wild Wood.

The escapades of the hot-headed Toad, debonair Ratty, shy Mole and wise Badger are brought vividly to life in a production that has charmed audiences of all ages. Drawing inspiration from the music of Edwardian composer George Butterworth, the action is set to a score by Martin Ward.

Through Tuckett’s choreography, with narration written by former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion and designs from The Quay Brothers and Nicky Gillibrand, the Vaudeville Theatre will be transformed into the magical world of Grahame’s tale.

Alan Titchmarsh
Alan Titchmarsh (MBE) was the main presenter of Gardeners’ World and the hugely popular Ground Force, and has also presented How To Be A Gardener, British Isles – A Natural History, The Great British Village Show, The Nature of Britain and now four series of Love Your Garden. His own daytime show on ITV, The Alan Titchmarsh Show, features a combination of music, the arts and conversation, and he presents his own radio show on Classic FM on Saturday mornings.

Sonya Cullingford (Mole)
Sonya Cullingford performed in the original production of The Wind in the Willows at the Royal Opera House. Recent credits include: Titus Andronicus (Bold Tendencies), The Drowned Man (Punchdrunk), Flow + Jealousy (The Print Room), The Marriage of Figaro (Opera Holland Park), The Red Shoes (Secret Cinema, Tobacco Docks) and Cart Macabre (Living Structures, Old Vic Tunnels).

Martin Harvey (Ratty)
Martin Harvey is a former member of the Royal Ballet School and London’s Royal Ballet Company. Harvey danced numerous principal roles for the Royal Ballet and his credits include: Mayerling, Onegin, La Fille Mal Gardee, Manon and Romeo and Juliet. In 2008 he took on the lead role of Johnny Castle in the west end production of Dirty Dancing and received the UK Critics’ Circle Spotlight Award. New York theatre credits include: Carmen (Metropolitan Opera), Portraits in Dramatic Time (Opus 3 Artists), Come Fly Away, A Chorus Line and In Your Arms.

Ira Mandela Siobhan (Badger)
Ira Mandela Siobhan has toured internationally with DV8 in Can We Talk About This? and To Be Straight With You. Other credits include: The Drowned Man (Punchdrunk), FELA! (National Theatre), The Lifeguard (National Theatre of Scotland), Feast and A Season in the Congo (both Young Viv). Mandela’s film credits include London Road and Pan (both 2015 release).

Cris Penfold (Toad)
Cris Penfold will reprise his role as Toad in this year’s production. Previous theatre credits include: in The Star Child (Menier Chocolate Factory), Soho Cinders (Queen’s Theatre, London), West Side Story (UK Tour), On The Town (London Coliseum);, Death In Venice (London Coliseum), A Journey of Jazz (Sadler’s Wells, London) and Oliver! (London Palladium). Chris’s film credits include: Alice Through the Looking Glass, London Road, Avengers: Age of Ultron (all 2015 release), Muppets Most Wanted, Rush and Great Expectations.

Recommended for everyone aged 5 and over.

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Creative Team
Director & Choreographer Will Tuckett
Composer Martin Ward

Narration Andrew Motion
Set design The Quay Brothers
Costume designs Nicky Gillibrand
Lighting design Warren Letton
Puppet design Toby Olié

Author

  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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