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The woodland creatures of Toad Hall and a band of female pirates are the headliners in two musical adventures ready to liven up the Pumphouse Theatre.
The newly formed Untold Stories is teaming up with Morpheus Theatre to present the Canadian premiere of a new musical version of the classic tale of Toad, Badger, Mole and Ratty, the inhabitants of Toad Hall.
The new musical version of The Wind in the Willows, written by Julian Fellows ( the creator of Downton Abbey) with George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, who collaborated with him on the musical Mary Poppins, opened at London’s Palladium Theatre in 2017. Before touring the United Kingdom, it was filmed for a cinema release.
Jason Bakaas, co-artistic director of Untold Stories, says when his company was originally negotiating the production rites for this new musical “we thought we had the North American premiere but a high school somewhere in the United States put their version on earlier this year so we can only boast to having the Canadian premiere.”
The Wind in the Willows has been a popular children’s book since it was first published in 1908. It follows the adventures of four heroes, the friends they gather and the enemies they must defeat. In this musical, it’s the Weasel Gang of Wild Wooders who disrupt the peace of the forest.
Bakaas, who has worked with StoryBook Theatre, Front Row Players, Cappuccino Theatre and Morpheus, said he and Gad Gijon formed Untold Stories when they noticed “these other companies seem to use the same people all the time.
“We noticed there were so many talented people who were not being given the opportunities they deserve. We have 24 people in the cast and a production team of 16 people and, for many of them, this is the first musical they’ve worked on.”
The cast for Untold’s The Wind in the Willows includes James Chandler as Mole, Austin Battung Arnaldo as Rat, Mike Duncalfe as Toad, Jane Phillips as Badger with Yaz Ben Lamin as Chief Weasel.
The Wind in the Willows directed by Bakaas and Gijon runs in the Pumphouse Theatre from April 15-23 with performances Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. matinees on Saturdays and Sundays. Advance tickets are available at untoldstories.com.
AVAST YE HEARTIES, THEM THAR PIRATES ARE WOMEN
For its annual Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, Morpheus Theatre has chosen The Pirates of Penzance which, after 125 years, is still one of the most produced Gilbert and Sullivan musicals.
Pirates is the story of a young apprentice pirate who falls in love with the daughter of a major general only to discover that his indenture to the pirate clan is too binding to let him have his heart’s desire. In love and war and musicals, true love will always triumph, even over pirates. But it will take swashbuckling pirates, bumbling policemen, swooning lovers and a dotty major general to right all the wrongs.
The Pirates of Penzance is credited with having created the comedic pirate motif in theatre and features some of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most beloved songs including the tongue-twisting I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major General.
To add to the already topsy-turvy nature of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas, Morpheus has decided to flip the genders of all the major characters, which means the pirates are now all-female and the major general’s wards are men. The policemen have both men and women in their ranks.
In Morpheus’s Pirates, Ginette Simonot plays the Pirate Queen with Evangeline Miably as the apprentice pirate Frederique. Winnifred Hume is the major general with Kyle Gould as his ward Abel, who wins the heart of Frederique.
Morpheus’ Pirates of Penzance runs in the Pumphouse Theatre from April 29 through May 14 with the online version available from May 12 to 14. Showtimes are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. with matinees on May 1, 7, 8 and 14 at 2 p.m. For tickets go to firstname.lastname@example.org.