Arts and Entertainment

Wind in the Willows: Children’s classic gets Northwest premiere in Valley Center Stage’s first musical

Bringing a new version of “Wind in the Willows” to Center Stage, Robin Walbeck-Forres, as Mole, Greg Lucas as Rat, and John Cook as Toad. Below, Ed Benson as Badger, with Rat and Mole. - Courtesy photo
Bringing a new version of “Wind in the Willows” to Center Stage, Robin Walbeck-Forres, as Mole, Greg Lucas as Rat, and John Cook as Toad. Below, Ed Benson as Badger, with Rat and Mole.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Valley Center Stage will present a new, unpublished work by legendary theater director and playwright Paul Sills: Kenneth Grahame’s “Wind in the Willows.”

It’s a charming, exciting and humorous tale of the riverbank and its life featuring the kind and gentle Ratty and Mole, the gruff but benevolent Badger and the irrepressible but conceited Toad of Toad Hall — whose passion for motor cars lands him in many scrapes.

“This is a story theater production just like our annual favorite, A Christmas Carol. In fact it is written by the same author,” says director Gary Schwartz. “Story theater is where the characters tell the story using original prose and act out scenes using the original dialogue from the book.”

Michael Matlock of North Bend wrote original music for the remaining songs. “I saw a workshop version of it in 1990 in Los Angeles with Sills’ company of actors, all veterans of the original Second City Improv troupe from the 1960’s and 70’s.” states Schwartz. “I know it’s been produced since in various stages in New York and Wisconsin, where Sills worked and taught. But this is the first fully formed version I know of.”

Schwartz was a long-time student of both Paul Sills and Sills’ mother Viola Spolin—the creator of theater games which was the original method of improvisation. He is using the techniques developed by Spolin to train the cast to perform in Story Theater style.

The cast of 13 is a combination of Valley Center Stage regulars and several new local actors.

This classic runs three weekends; Thursday, Friday and Saturdays starting April 25 through May 11. The show plays at 7:30 p.m. with two matinees at 2 p.m. on Saturday,  May 4 and 11.

Tickets are $17 and $14.50 for children and seniors and can be purchased online at www.valleycenterstage.org.

Valley Center Stage is located at 119 W North Bend Way in downtown North Bend on the second floor of the Masonic Lodge, above Singletrack Cycle Shop.

 

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