Rallying call for Wind in the Willows

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A SMALL army of volunteers has answered an S.O.S. to go backstage for Harrogate Dramatic Society’s forthcoming production of The Wind in the Willows, the Harrogate Dramatic Society.

This family extravaganza’s producers opted for professional help for the daunting task of providing specialist make-up for a cast of 40, including 17 children.

The riverbank creatures - from Toad, Ratty, Badger and Mole to the smallest fieldmouse - all need their own distinctive “look”, whiskers, tails, ears and furry faces.

The show’s director, Rachel Conyers explained: “We needed a hint of animal characteristics but we still needed faces to be recognisable. So the idea was for the make-up to be applied to each actor’s forehead and cheeks suggesting animal features, and adding noses, whiskers and tails to complete the picture.”

Then came a bombshell. The professionals couldn’t help after all. And the call went out for urgent assistance from among the society membership.

First there was one volunteer, then another, then someone’s mum.

Then a “friend of a friend” came along, until, in no time, there was a workable team of “amateurs” prepared to work together to get the show on the road.

The first job was to prepare the cast for a photo-session at Ripley Castle near Harrogate, generously offered by Sir Thomas Ingilby as a viable alternative to the infamous Toad Hall immortalised in the AA Milne original of Toad of Toad Hall.

The make-up team met several times to fine-tune their skills before setting about the monumental task of making up an assortment of weasels, stoats, rabbits, squirrels hedgehogs, and fieldmice, not forgetting Toad, Mole, Ratty, Badger and a handful of “humans” in the Alan Bennett version of the play.

l The Wind in the Willows runs at Harrogate Theatre from Wednesday, May 2 to Saturday May 5.

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

Tickets are available from the theatre box office 01423 502116 or on-line at www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk