Mr Toad leads family favourites at Greenwich Theatre

Following recent trips to see TV favourite Bluey at Kew Gardens, and the even more immersive Peppa Pig World, it is clear that children love nothing more than seeing their best loved characters brought to life – and whilst I love providing opportunities for theatre companies to try something new, and will always champion that, there is huge reward in seeing an audience of children enraptured by their favourites on stage.

James Haddrell, artistic director of Greenwich Theatre

Therefore I could not be happier that Wise Owl Theatre are set to bring their take on Kenneth Graham’s The Wind In The Willows to Greenwich Theatre during the May half-term. Titled ‘Mr Toad’, and focusing in on that unforgettable character, the show sees Toad inviting the audience to his own grand new self-titled show – itself called ‘Mr Toad’ – supported by his ragtag bunch of performers; a begrudging Ratty, Badger and Mole. But as the story deepens, the wheels start to come off…

Based on the characters from Kenneth Graham’s original book, though this is a rewrite it remains a story of friendship, self-discovery and overcoming adversity, with beautiful puppetry from Matthew Forbes, Associate Puppetry Director of the National Theatre’s award-winning production of War Horse.

Another children’s favourite getting a stage make-over this season is Gillian Hibbs’ book, Errol’s Garden. This interactive musical for audiences aged 3-8 and their grownups, filled with catchy songs, comes to Greenwich on 12 August courtesy of Golden Toad Theatre Company, and follows the fortunes of Errol, who loves plants so much that he has them growing out of every pot, pan and teacup he can find in his small flat. He knows that plants need water, sunlight and space. They need a garden. Errol and his sister Tia search through their block of flats for the perfect space, and discover a neglected rooftop full of rubbish. After Errol and Tia clean up the space, they imagine building a community garden, but first, they will need to convince all of their neighbours to pitch in and help.

Errol’s Garden, courtesy of Golden Toad Theatre Company

Alongside Errol’s Garden, I am proud to be presenting our own new take on Beauty and the Beast, written by Sidonie Welton and Brad Tutt and running throughout August. Steering away from the Disney version, this new adaptation is filled with new songs by David Haller performed by a virtuoso company of actor musicians. The show promises to get to the heart of the original tale, in all of its many retellings, with Belle taking her father’s place at a magic castle and finding that its master is less of a Beast than the rumour mill, and his own gruff exterior, may suggest.

None of these shows are set to replace our commitment to showcasing new family stories, and the programme at Greenwich Theatre is always rich with shows for children and young people, but I look forward to sharing in the excitement of our audiences recognising some of their favourite characters on stage, and maybe seeing them given a whole new spin.

Tickets for all three productions are available now at 

Main Picture: Mr Toad, courtesy of Wise Owl Theatre

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