Weasel words as group tackles tale of Mr Toad

Rehearsals for Ponteland Repertory Society's Wind in the Willows
Rehearsals for Ponteland Repertory Society's Wind in the Willows

Performances are being fine-tuned and final touches applied as a Northumbrian amateur dramatic group gears up for another show.

Ponteland Repertory Society staged the Lionel Bart musical Oliver! in November, and now it is looking forward to entertaining even more audiences with its version of the Kenneth Grahame children’s classic The Wind in the Willows.

The society’s take on the 1991 adaptation of the 1908 book by playwright Alan Bennett is being directed by Lucy Walton and Jonny Woolett, both taking on that role for the first time.

Youth theatre group Preppies is taking part, and the family duo of Jason and Matthew Long are playing key roles.

Alternately slow-moving and fast-paced, The Wind in the Willows is the story of the adventures of a group of animals, including Mr Toad, Mole, Rat and Badger.

The Wind in the Willows was in its 31st printing when Winnie-the-Pooh creator Alan Alexander Milne adapted part of it for the stage as Toad of Toad Hall in 1929.

That version was adapted by Bennett, 81, in 1991, and he even took on the role of Mole.

The story begins with Mole doing his spring cleaning. Fed up with the task, he emerges onto the riverbank and meets Ratty, a water vole.

The two encounter various other creatures during their adventures, such as an otter and his son called Portly, squirrels, rabbits and a kindly old Badger who invites them to stay at his house.

They also meet the irrepressible Toad, owner of Toad Hall.

When Toad Hall is taken over by wicked creatures from the Wild Wood – weasels, stoats and ferrets – a new band of friends helps Toad recover his home, a campaign culminating in the Battle of Toad Hall.

The show will be staged at Ponteland Memorial Hall from Wednesday, March 2, to Saturday, March 5. Performances will be at 7pm each evening, with a 2pm matinee on the Saturday.

Tickets cost £8 for adults and £6 for children, and are available online at www.pontelandrep.co.uk and also at Merton Hall in Ponteland on Friday mornings, from 9.30am to 11.30am, from Janet Walton.