Entering the auditorium of the De La Warr Pavilion, the audience was faced with the most stunning and beautifully lit stage set, depicting the Riverbank and Wild Wood of Wind In The Willows.
As the story unfolded the scenery designed by James Symonds magically came alive during the following two hours. Almost 100 children of all ages, dressed as woodland creatures joyfully danced and sang, accompanied by the band led by Mark Napier. Their enjoyment in singing to live music was obvious, and their voices seemed lifted by the experience.
With such a big cast, sadly it’s impossible to name everyone. The principal characters of Mole - Beth Surley: Ratty - Holly White: Badger - Adam Smith: Mrs. Otter - Mollie Dennis: and Portia - Poppy May Murtin all embraced their roles so well and performed them sensitively and with great characterisation. The irrepressible Mr Toad was played brilliantly by Oliver Green in his last role for ESSPA before moving on to university. Without distracting from the main action, little groups of woodland creatures were seen reacting to each other beautifully in the background. As always, watching the very youngest dancers was pure delight.
A production of this high standard can only be achieved by dedicated teamwork. Under her inspirational direction, Teena Symonds is supported by her team of teachers at ESSPA. For dance, Kym and India Giggins and Kimberley Whyborne, drama Kate West, and singing coach Lucy Ashton. Added to this are the backstage crew, lighting and sound technicians, set designers and builders, prop makers, chaperones, sewing team, programme and raffle sellers.
ESSPA’s Wind In The Willows was a theatrical delight and everyone involved can feel justifiably proud for showcasing some of our very talented local youngsters. By Sue Hughes. Photo by James Symonds.