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the wind in the willows


the wind in the willows

(On the Riverbank) The good creatures of the Riverbank sing of how they love their peaceful, gentle river whilst, in contrast, the shadier, darker creatures of the Wild Wood hint that, although they like the darkness of the Wood, they have their eyes on expanding their territory down to the River, especially Toad Hall. Ratty sets up a picnic by the River and is met by Mole who, fed up with Spring cleaning, has taken a trip down to the unfamiliar Riverbank, by which he is entranced. After briefly meeting gruff Mr Badger, Ratty warns Mole about the Wild Wood and the creatures who live there. They spend a pleasant afternoon on Ratty’s little boat rowing towards the expansive Riverside abode of the whimsical and impulsive Toad (On the Riverbank, reprise). Toad’s latest passion, gypsy caravanning, is in full flood and he eventually persuades his two companions to take a trip with him (Life on the Open Road). For Toad, the novelty quickly wears off and, when their caravan is run off the road by a speeding motor car, a new obsession is sparked into life! Despite warnings from Ratty, Mole sets off into the Wild Wood to find Badger. Becoming lost, Mole is terrorised by the Weasels, Ferrets and Stoats (Who’s There?). Just in time, Badger appears and Mole’s tormentors scatter into the darkness. Badger, Ratty and Mole discuss Toad’s increasingly erratic behaviour with his many motor cars. The ebullient Toad is enjoying his new hobby (Indestructible Toad). We see him driving with very little care and attention, running down a police officer, to whom Toad is less than polite! After many crashes and a brief spell in hospital from where he escapes, Badger corners Toad and berates him for his recklessness (You Exasperating Rogue!), before finally extracting a (false) promise from Toad that he will change his madcap ways. The Weasels, plotting, tempt Toad into stealing a very fast and expensive motor car (On the Road Again!). Toad appears in court charged with stealing the motor car and also with impertinence towards a police officer. He is sentenced, by a rather unsympathetic judge, to twenty years in jail, mostly for cheeking the officer! We see Toad, feeling very sorry for himself, in the dark dungeon cell. (The End Now for Certain).

(Where I Belong) A wandering Sea Rat, sings wistfully of his nomadic and exotic life travelling around the world. The Swallows and the Field Mice are making plans for the Winter. The whole countryside is restless and Ratty, who has never left the Riverbank, starts to yearn for adventure, but Mole, who has no intention of leaving, persuades his friend to stay. Toad, still feeling sorry for himself inside his cell, befriends the resident mouse. The jailer’s daughter, sensing that Toad has been on the wrong end of some pretty rough justice, decides to help him. Together they plan for Toad to swap clothes with the highly bribable and loquacious washerwoman, thus allowing Toad to make his escape. (Toad’s Adventure) Dressed as a washerwoman, Toad first has to dodge the amorous advances of the prison guard then, having lost his wallet, he has to sweet-talk his way onto the footplate of a train. The Engine Driver, aware that his train is being pursued by another locomotive carrying prison guards and policemen, eventually extracts the truth from Toad but nevertheless decides to help him. The chase accelerates through the countryside, and, after exiting a tunnel, Toad leaps from the train, again evading capture! Toad spots the evil Weasels, Stoats and Ferrets on patrol (Stoat Patrol), and, still a little dazed, gradually realises that he is in the grounds of Toad Hall, which the Wildwooders have seized! Just as Toad is about to be taken by the usurpers, Ratty, Mole and Badger rescue him. Toad discovers that, in his absence, his friends, knowing that Toad Hall was in great danger, had taken up residence there. But that one dark night they had been attacked and overpowered by the Wildwooders who now command the place. Badger reveals that he knows of a secret tunnel into Toad Hall and the friends make plans to retake the residence. The Weasels, Stoats and Ferrets are living it up at Toad Hall, using and abusing it as one enormous party venue! (Party Animals). Not expecting an attack and being in the middle of a wild party, the riotous Wildwooders are caught unawares as our brave heroic trio use the tunnel to break out into the heart of Toad Hall. A fierce battle ensues during which the villains are overpowered. Our friends, on hearing that the Wildwooders are truly sorry for their despicable actions, decide to forgive them. Collectively they all agree that the only way for the creatures of the countryside to rub along together is to endeavour to forgive and to share the whole land in peace and harmony. Rat decides to pursue his urge to travel beyond the Riverbank, safe in the knowledge that his real home will always be with his friends, both old and new. The company sing in celebration of their new-found accord (Now We Can Share).

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