The Wind in the Willows, playing this Summer at the spectacular London Palladium, is a fun, albeit slightly over-the-top musical based on Kenneth Grahame's well-loved novel. The adaptation was written by Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey), with music by Stiles and Drewe (Half a Sixpence). But, whilst the show is visually impressive and full of catchy tunes, it feels quite laboured at times.
There are some lovely moments in the show. Simon Lipkin, playing Rat, and Craig Mather, playing Mole, are more compelling than the overall production, moderating the hyperbole of the show when they are on stage. The show also features some lovely choreography, which adds to the already fantastic visuals created by the beautiful set and lighting.
Rufus Hound returns to the West End in this show to play the role of Toad. His performance is indisputably wholehearted and amusing, but balances on the fine line between energetic and irritating.
The production does fall down in some other areas. Whilst the music written for the show is catchy, it lacks depth – the same could be said for some parts of the script which, although heartfelt a lot of the time, occasionally comes across as quite two-dimensional.
But, if you know and love The Wind in the Willows and can put aside a little exaggeration, you will almost certainly enjoy the vibrancy of this production. This show is ideal for a younger audience, so make sure you catch it this Summer if you are a fan of the story.
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