Get set for Alan Bennett’s famous version of Wind in the Willows

Mole (Darren Smith) and Ratty (Stuart Newsome) enjoy a riverside picnic before Wind in the Willows. (Picture by ichael Garside)
Mole (Darren Smith) and Ratty (Stuart Newsome) enjoy a riverside picnic before Wind in the Willows. (Picture by ichael Garside)
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AUDIENCES can look forward to some real animal magic next week as Harrogate Dramatic Society launches its latest production, Alan Bennett’s adaptation of the classic comedy The Wind in the Willows.

With the exception of a few mere mortals a cast of more than 40, including 17 children, will put their human characteristics on hold for the week and adopt animal personas.

Pompous Toad, boating Ratty, grumpy Badger and little Mole as well as a host of Wild Wooders all come together on the river bank for a hilarious all-singing all-dancing spectacular. play at Harrogate Theatre.

The Alan Bennett version is regarded as one of the most popular of many adaptations of the original Kenneth Grahame story.

It became Toad of Toad Hall written by A.A.Milne in 1929 and subsequently re-appeared in various guises over the years as musicals, other stage versions, television series, animations and film.

The role of Toad, played for Harrogate Dramatic Society next week by Michael Garside, has appealed to famous actors in the past.

Hugh Laurie took on the outrageous amphibian in a 1995 animated made-for-TV film The Adventures of Mole in 1995, Rik Mayall played him in another animated film the same year, and Matt Lucas took on the part in the 2006 film of The Wind in the Willows .

On stage Michael Garside’s Toad will have all the necessary boys’ toys to relish and boast about and then lose interest in – a car, caravan, railway engine and canal barge.

Ratty (Stuart Newsome), Badger (John Glyn Jones) and Mole (Darren Smith) are all on hand to try and keep him under control. No easy job!

Among the Wild Wooders a young newcomer to the society comes with an impressive pedigree.

Portia Crewe of Knaresborough School of Speech and Drama, who plays the part of a Stoat called Iris, was recently placed first in the Solo Acting category at the recent Harrogate Festival and was awarded the Ruby Jacques Trophy.

She was also placed first in the Prepared Reading category and won the Judy Methven award.

l Rachel Conyers’ and Robin Green’s production runs at Harrogate Theatre from Wednesday, May 2 to Saturday, May 5.

Evening performances will open at 7.30pm with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

Tickets are available from 01423 502116 or at www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk