Toad of Toad Hall is a play written by A. A. Milne – the first of several dramatisations of Kenneth Grahame's 1908 novel The Wind in the Willows – with incidental music by Harold Fraser-Simson. It was originally produced by William Armstrong at the Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool, on 21 December 1929. It was given in the West End the following year, and has been revived frequently by many theatrical companies.
For his stage version of Grahame's book, the humorist and playwright A. A. Milne concentrated on the adventures of Mr Toad, which make up about half of the original book, because they lent themselves most easily to being staged. He loved Grahame's book, which is one of the reasons why he decided to adapt it. He wrote in the introduction to the published play:
The first production was at the Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool, on 21 December 1929, under the direction of William Armstrong. The first London productions were at the Lyric Theatre on 17 December 1930 and the Savoy Theatre on 22 December 1931, directed by Frank Cellier.
|Liverpool, 1929||Lyric, 1930||Savoy, 1931|
|Nurse||Mamie Hunt||Mona Jenkins||Mona Jenkins|
|Marigold||Katrina Kaufmann||Wendy Toye||Nova Pilbeam|
|The Mole||Alan Webb||Richard Goolden||Richard Goolden|
|The Water Rat||Lloyd Pearson||Ivor Barnard||A. Cameron Hall|
|Mr Badger||Wyndham Goldie||Eric Stanley||Eric Stanley|
|Toad||Leslie Kyle||Frederick Burtwell||Frederick Burtwell|
|Alfred||Peter Mather||R. Halliday Mason||R. Halliday Mason|
|Back Legs of Alfred||Martin Hyde||Frank Snell||Frank Snell|
|Chief Weasel||Nelson Welch||Ronald Alpe||Robert Hughes|
|Chief Stoat||John Guinness||William McGuigan||Leslie Stroud|
|Chief Ferret||John Robinson||Alfred Fairhurst||Neal Alston|
|First Field-Mouse||Sally Lockhart||Gordon Tucker||Jim Neal|
|Second Field-Mouse||Audrey Wilson||Robert Sinclair||Jim Soloman|
|Policeman||Herbert Bickerstaff||Alban Blakelock||Alban Blakelock|
|Gaoler||Basil Nairn||Alfred Fairhurst||Robert Hughes|
|Judge||James Harcourt||Alfred Clark||Tom Reynolds|
|Usher||Alfred Sangster||Humphrey Morton||Beeson King|
|Turkey||Lorraine Cromarty||Gordon Tucker||Jim Soloman|
|Duck||Trevor Reid||Robert Sinclair||Jim Neal|
|Phoebe||Joan Harker||Joan Harker||Wendy Toye|
|Washerwoman||Marjorie Fielding||Dorothy Fane||Dorothy Fane|
|Mama Rabbit||Elizabeth Ripley||Phyllis Coulthard||Phyllis Coulthard|
|Harold Rabbit||Doris Forrest||Marcus Haig||Jim Ned|
|Lucy Rabbit||Kathleen Boutcher||Daphne Allen||Daphne Allen|
|Barge-Woman||Pauline Lacey||Frances Waring||Muriel Johnston|
The play comprises a prologue, four acts and an epilogue:
Although not a musical, the play contains ten musical numbers composed by Harold Fraser-Simson:
Reviewing the Liverpool premiere, The Stage commented that Milne had succeeded brilliantly in putting Grahame's characters on the stage, but thought the play might be over the heads of a children's audience, having "so much in it to appeal to the adult mind".The other principal theatrical paper, The Era , thought that there might be "a certain amount of doubt whether Mr Milne has succeeded in bringing the peculiar and indefinable atmosphere of Kenneth Grahame's little classic in the realms of fantasy, The Wind in the Willows, on to the stage. But perhaps he never attempted to do so. What he has actually done has been to provide an entertainment brimful of delight, for childish hearts".
The play was revived in the West End each year from 1932 to 1935, and was next seen there in 1954, in a production first seen at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, with Leo McKern as Toad, William Squire as Rat, Edward Atienza as Mole and Brewster Mason as Badger.
In the 1960s and 1970s there were annual West End revivals during the Christmas season, with Goolden returning to the part of Mole in every year except one.Among the actors appearing in the play in London and elsewhere were, in the title role Michael Bates, Hywel Bennett, Derek Godfrey, Nicky Henson, Michael Hordern, Paul Scofield, Ian Wallace, Michael Williams, Peter Woodthorpe and Patrick Wymark. Alan Badel and Clive Revill were among those seen as Rat; Badgers included Michael Blakemore, Mark Dignam, John Justin and John Woodvine. Performers seen in other roles in the play included Beverley Cross, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Rita Tushingham and Brett Usher. In the 1980s and subsequently the play has been frequently revived in London, the British provinces and in North America.
The BBC has broadcast several adaptations of the play. A 1942 radio version featured Goolden and Burtwell reprising their roles from the first London production, Fred Yule was Badger and Vernon Harris was Rat.Michael Barry's television version of the play was broadcast live on eight occasions between 1946 and 1950 with varying casts, the only principal common to all eight being Kenneth More as Badger. A 1953 television version featured Gerald Campion as Toad and Patrick Troughton as Badger.
A serialised radio adaptation of the play was broadcast on Children's Hour in 1948; Norman Shelley played Toad, Goolden was Mole and Leslie French Rat.A 1973 radio version featured Goolden with Derek Smith as Toad, Bernard Cribbins as Rat, Cyril Luckham as Badger and Hugh Paddick as the Judge. This version was broadcast again in 1973, 1976, 1979, 1981 and 1990.
The Wind in the Willows is a children's novel by the British novelist Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908. It details the story of Mole, Ratty and Badger as they try to help Mr. Toad, after he becomes obsessed with a motorcar and gets into trouble. It also details short stories about them that are disconnected from the main narrative. The novel was based on bedtime stories Grahame told his son Alastair. It has been adapted numerous times for both stage and screen.
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The Wind in the Willows is a 1995 British animated television film directed by Dave Unwin and written by Ted Walker, and based on the 1908 novel of the same name, a classic of children's literature by Kenneth Grahame. It was produced by the now defunct TVC in London.
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