The Wind in the Willows

By Kenneth Grahame the wind in the willows by grahame and Post

Adaptation, New Lyrics

and Music by Douglas Post

Directed by Terry McCabe

At City Lit Theater

Family friendly fable is filled with humor and loads of heart

Lead by the shy Mole (Catherine Gillespie) and the stubborn but friendly Rat (Tom Weber) and the gruff antisocial Badger (Edward Kuffert), the impulsive, obsessive and fast-car-loving amphibian Toad (Ed Rutherford), The Wind in the Willows is a sweet, melodic chamber musical that satirizes pastoral English society.   The musical is an ode to friendship, loyalty and acceptance.

 the wind in the willows by grahame and Post

What makes this charming and well sung musical work is the strong performance by Ed Rutherford as the Toad. Rutherford has the flamboyance of  an English gentleman and the impulsive wildness of an adventurous cad. Rutherford’s larger-than-life persona contains a nice mixture of humor, mischievousness with a fine singing voice  and loads of empathy. We quickly like Toad and we cheer for him to escape from his incarceration.

 the wind in the willows by grahame and Post

Catherine Gillespie’s Mole and Tom Weber’s Rat with the help of Edward Kuffert’s Badger demonstrate their friendship and loyalty to Toad. The chamber musical has a likable score from Douglas Post containing an lovely opening anthem “The Wind in the Willows.” Using story theater techniques to highlight Grahame’s narrative to garner all of the humor and absurdity of the animal community that parodies Edwardian British society of 1908, the eclectic score blends musical styles such as rock, patter songs, reggae, tin-pan alley, music hall tunes, spirituals with Gilbert & Sullivan influences.

Charm, humor and loads of heart fuel City Lit Theater’s warm production of The Wind in the Willows. Ed Rutherford performance  is his best to date.  This show is kid-friendly and adult proof. It is a fine holiday treat.

Recommended

Tom Williams

At City Lit Theater, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr,  Chicago, IL, 773-293-3682, tickets $25, www.citylit.org, Sunday, Dec 26 at 3 & 7 pm, Fridays Dec 31 & Jan 7 at 8 pm, Saturdays Jan 1 & 8 at 3 & 8 pm, Sundays 2 & 9 at 3pm, running time is 2 hours, 10 minutes with intermission, through January 9, 2011