A new musical theatre adaptation of The Wind in the Willows,created by Downton’s Julian Fellowes, is set for the stage in 2016.
The co-production, between Jamie Hendry and Theatre Royal Plymouth, will open next October in Plymouth followed by The Lowry, Salford, before opening in London’s West End.
Based on Kenneth Grahame’s treasured 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 Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes and Olivier Award-winning composer and lyricist team George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.
It is the first time the three have worked together since their hugely successful collaboration on Mary Poppins which ran for three years in the West End and six years on Broadway.
Kenneth Grahame’s wild tale about the thrill-seeking, lovable menace Mr Toad will come to life in a brand new stage musical.
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.
Jamie Hendry said: “I am delighted that we will be opening The Wind in the Willows in two of the country’s most prestigious venues prior to the West End.
“It has been a joy working with such a distinguished team of writers and creatives to develop that rare thing – a new British musical. I can’t wait to get the show on the road and invite audiences to share in our journey next year!”
Hendry has also announced that he is sending copies of Kenneth Grahame’s novel to every school and library in Plymouth and Salford, launching an incentive to provide readers of all ages the opportunity to enjoy book before the musical opens.
He added “I am a firm believer that our most classic novels should be freely available for everyone to enjoy. I hope that readers will fall in love with Grahame’s story as much as I did, which ultimately led to the commissioning of this musical.”
Julian Fellowes said : “I could not be more pleased to have been working on this new production of The Wind in the Willows, which has been a favourite of mine literally all my life.
“It has been a real privilege to be part of the team re-imagining it for the musical stage. As an added bonus, I’ve really enjoyed being back in the Stiles/Drewe/Fellowes team with our last production of Mary Poppins being a high point for all of us.
“Naturally, I have similar hopes for The Wind in the Willows and I shall be on the edge of my seat when we open at Plymouth, a marvellous theatre and the perfect launch pad for us to begin.
“I do believe audiences everywhere will love the adventures of Toad, Ratty, Mole, Badger and their friends, on stage, as much as they have always loved the book. I certainly hope so, anyway.”
The Wind in the Willows will run at Theatre Royal Plymouth from October 8-22, 2016 The Lowry, Salford, October 26-November 6, 2016