Comic and actor Rufus Hound has leapt at the chance of playing Mr Toad in Julian Fellowes’ upcoming new musical production of The Wind in the Willows which opens a pre-West End tour in Plymouth this autumn.
Rufus Hound will star as the lovable menace in plus-fours, Mr Toad, in the highly-anticipated new musical production alongside Irish actor and singer Fra Fee as Mole, Downton Abbey’s Thomas Howes as Ratty, EastEnders bad-boy and Shrek star Neil McDermott as Chief Weasel and Sophia Nomvete as Mrs Otter.
The full cast will include Rakesh Boury, Courtney Bowman, Jenna Boyd, Abigail Brodie, Jorell Coiffic-Kamall, Nicole Deon, James Gant, Evan James, Graham Lappin, Michael Larcombe, Bethany Linsdell, Dylan Mason, Emma Odell, Ryan Pidgen, Patrick Sullivan, Karli Vale, Adam Vaughan, Georgie Westall and Holly Willock.
Based on Kenneth Grahame’s novel which has captivated generations of readers for over a century, The Wind in the Willows has been adapted for the stage with a book by Academy Award-winning screenwriter and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and Olivier Award-winning composer and lyricist duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.
Fellowes, Stiles and Drewe previously collaborated together on the hugely successful international hit musical Mary Poppins which ran for three years in the West End and six years on Broadway and on a new version of Half a Sixpence, opening next month at Chichester Festival Theatre.
Ratty, Badger and Mole join the exuberant Toad and embark on a series of adventures and misadventures caused by his insatiable need for speed!
Imprisoned for theft, and with his existence under threat from the inhabitants of the Wild Wood, Toad must attempt a daring escape to defend Toad Hall.
Rufus Hound said: “I – like so many of us – was weaned on The Wind in the Willows, so this is an incredibly special opportunity. Bringing these adventures to a brand new audience is almost as exciting as a gleaming new motorcar. Roll on rehearsals! Poop poop!”
Julian Fellowes added: “This new adaptation has been such a joy to write, and we have pulled together a really marvellous array of extraordinary talent in casting the production.
“I’ve no doubt that our actors are going to have the time of their lives taking these memorable characters on the journey from page to stage. I hope and believe the audience will have a lot of fun!”
Jamie Hendry, whose production company is behind the show along with MJE Productions in association with Theatre Royal Plymouth, said: “I’m thrilled to announce such a wonderful cast of actors, led by Rufus Hound as the thrill-seeking lovable menace Mr Toad.
“Developing this production has been immensely enjoyable and I can’t wait to bring the cast together as we start rehearsals this summer!”
Rufus Hound is an actor, presenter and comedian, most recently seen on stage in Don Quixote (Royal Shakespeare Company), The Wars of the Roses (Rose Theatre) and as Freddy in the original West End production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Savoy Theatre).
Additional theatre credits include Neville’s Island (Chichester Festival Theatre), One Man Two Guv’nors (UK Tour / Theatre Royal Haymarket) and Utopia (Soho Theatre).
Television credits include Doctor Who (BBC), Cucumber (Channel 4), Drunk History (Comedy Central), A Touch Of Cloth (SKY) and Hounded (BBC). He is also a regular guest on comedy panel shows such as Never Mind The Buzzcocks (BBC), Would I Lie To You? (BBC), and 8 Out Of 10 Cats (Channel 4).
Fra Fee most notably played the role of Courfeyrac in Tom Hooper’s box office hit movie Les Misérables. Theatre credits include As You Like It (National Theatre), The Last Five Years (Lyric Theatre, Belfast); Romeo & Juliet (Gate Theatre); Candide (Menier Chocolate Factory); Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre) and Dirty Dancing (Aldwych Theatre).
Thomas Howes is best known for his role as footman Thomas in Downton Abbey. Stage work includes The Lighthouse (Birmingham Contemporary Music Group), The Mousetrap (UK Tour), The Winslow Boy (Theatre Royal Bath) and The History Boys (UK Tour). Further screen credits include films Anna Karenina and United and television work in Houdini and Doyle (ITV) and Dark Angel (ITV).
Neil McDermott is most known for portraying Ryan Malloy in EastEnders (BBC). Stage credits include playing Lord Farquaad in Shrek The Musical (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), Jean-Michel in La Cage Aux Folles (Menier Chocolate Factory) and Rolf Gruber in The Sound of Music (London Palladium). Further television credits include The Royal (ITV), Casualty (BBC) and Doctor Who: The Next Doctor (BBC).
The Wind in the Willows will tour briefly before moving into London’s West End (venue to be announced).
October 8-22, THEATRE ROYAL, PLYMOUTH October 26-November 6, THE LOWRY, SALFORD November 10-20, MAYFLOWER THEATRE, SOUTHAMPTON