A timeless tale of animal adventures is coming to the Repertory Theatre in the second week of the school holidays.
A cast of 20 performers aged 10 to 13 is bringing back The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame’s story of Toad, Ratty, Mole and Badger in the English countryside in the early 1900s.
Ratty and Mole live happily on the riverbank and Badger nearby in the Wild Woods. But Toad, the owner of Toad Hall, is a daredevil who yearns for excitement. He is arrested for stealing a car and sent to jail for 20 years.
However, the irrepressible amphibian disguises himself as a washerwoman and escapes, taking the bargewoman’s horse to head home.
While he has been away, stoats and weasels have taken over Toad Hall and are about to celebrate Chief Weasel’s birthday.
Badger finds out and the four friends break in, forcing out the Wild Wooders.
Toad is then persuaded to reform his notorious ways.
Musical Theatre Oamaru Children’s Theatre has had plenty of its own adventures in preparing the show, director Pat Gunn says.
“There have been a few glitches along the way.
“A month out from the scheduled April school holiday show, rehearsals were put on hold when Covid sent us all into lockdown,” Mrs Gunn said.
“Like Toad we were anxious to escape and continue our journey. We kept up virtual contact through our Facebook page, sharing Wind in the Willows-themed photos and activities.
“There were some great results from the Toad in the Hole recipe one member shared, and little videos of origami toads hopping along.
“Four months later, when lockdown restrictions were lifted, the cast and crew were delighted to be back at rehearsals and get the show under way once more.”
Difficulties to be overcome included making costumes.
“Lockdown would have been a wonderful opportunity to do some sewing but the uncertainty of not knowing whether we would actually get the show on stage meant that wasn’t practical . and no shops open for those inevitable bits and pieces required,” she said.
“Also, children grow quite a bit and measurements taken five months previously were more than likely out of date.”
Rehearsing dances with partners was well-nigh impossible while observing social distancing.
“I think we have by now formed a safe little bubble of our own,” Mrs Gunn said.
Then there was the change of seasons to factor in.
“We usually rehearse over the summer months. Winter brings cold weather, dark nights and the inevitable colds and sore throats.
“Hopefully, there won’t be any more misadventures along the way.”
The show is being performed at 2pm daily from October 7 to 11 at the Itchen St theatre. Tickets are $10, and available online from iTICKET or at the door from October 5 from noon to 2pm.