THE ADVENTURES OF MR. TOAD
a Musical in two Acts based on The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth
First performed at the Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke in December 1984, and subsequently at the Theatre Royal, Winchester in January 1985 and at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London in December 1986/January 1987.
On a glorious Spring morning on the Riverbank the Riverside animals are playing happily when, suddenly, Mole appears from under the ground (HANG SPRING CLEANING). Rat introduces himself and sings of the wonders of river life (MESSING ABOUT). They decide to spend the day together and commence their picnic. Badger arrives, complaining about Toad's latest craze. He then sets off to Toad Hall with the intention of sorting out Toad once and for all. Toad appears (INTRODUCING MR. TOAD) and invites Rat and Mole to go caravanning with him (LET'S JUMP ABOARD). They pack away the picnic and set off in the caravan.
The action moves to the Wild Wood, where the wicked Weasels, led by the evil Chief Weasel, are performing their tribal dance (WEASELS REIGN). In the distance is heard the sound of the caravan, which is then forced into a ditch by an approaching car. The Weasels, delighted by the accident, disperse as the panic-stricken horse charges onstage. Rat, Mole and Toad arrive. Rat suggests that the cart should be mended but Toad is in the grip of a new craze: he now wants a motor car! Rat takes Toad off to look for the Wheelwright but Mole, left on his own, is frightened by the weird shapes of the Wild Wood. The voices of the Wildwooders lure him into the wood, but Rat arrives just in time to rescue him from the clutches of the Chief Weasel. They decide to take shelter and, by chance, find Badger's house where they stay for the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, at Toad Hall Toad is pursuing his latest craze (MR. TOAD). He takes delivery of a new motor car but, as usual, manages to wreck it. After breakfast at Badger's house (BREAKFAST) Mole, Rat and Badger decide that the time has come to take Toad in hand (A DUTY TO PERFORM). On arrival at Toad Hall, while Badger takes Toad inside for a lecture, Rat remembers life on the river (DUCKS' DITTY). The animals lock Toad in his bedroom and take it in turns to guard him until he agrees to give up motor cars. However, Toad feigns illness and escapes through the window to find a new vehicle (MR. TOAD - REPRISE).
In the Court Room Toad is in the dock accused of stealing a motor car and, worse still, of cheeking the police. The verdict is a foregone conclusion: Toad is found guilty by the Lady Magistrate who seems more concerned with her knitting than justice. They all gloat over Toad's twenty year sentence (GOODBYE TOAD) and the hapless Toad is taken off to jail.
In jail some months later Rosy, the jailer's daughter, brings Toad his breakfast. At her prompting Toad tells of his magnificent mansion (TOAD HALL). Rosy takes pity on him and helps him to escape disguised in the clothes of her aunt, the Washerwoman. Back on the Riverbank the Riverside animals are playing as usual (MESSING ABOUT - REPRISE). To Rat's amazement Toad arrives bedraggled after the adventures of his escape. He goes off to change. Mole and Badger arrive, lamenting that Toad Hall, which has been occupied by the Weasels, is so closely guarded that they cannot find a way in. They are amazed to hear of Toad's escape. Toad returns and is shattered to hear of the loss of his beloved Toad Hall. Badger however reveals the existence of a secret passage, and they determine to attack (OFF A-BASHING) while the Weasels are celebrating the Chief Weasel's birthday.
After much confusion and muddle in the secret passage they burst into the hall after the Weasels have sung of Toad's downfall (TOAD HAS GONE TO PRISON). The Weasels are taken by surprise and the battle ends with a sword fight between Toad and the Chief Weasel. However Mole bops the Chief Weasel on the head, and the animals regain Toad Hall. The Riverside Animals appear together with Toad's caravan, now mended. Toad begins to sing (FINALE - LET'S JUMP ABOARD). Everybody dances in joyous celebration, but suddenly the noise of an aeroplane passing overhead is heard. Toad is transfixed : "It flies - I want one!" he says. Toad has found a brand-new craze!
2 female, 5 male
percussion, guitar, piano, bass
THE ADVENTURES OF MR. TOAD is a very adaptable musical and can be performed by professional, amateur or school forces.
Supplemented by a chorus of children, the show was staged in London with eight players with roles as follows:
It it also effective with a 'cast of thousands'; this is more suitable for school productions since there is no limit to the size of the Choruses of Animals and Weasels, and doubling of the main characters is not necessary.
Some of the settings can be simple front cloths to enable the
main sets to be changed behind. The caravan should be practical
and the car should be of the large 'pedal' variety. Costumes should
be bright and cheerful, and it may help to envisage the show as
a fun-filled, three dimensional cartoon.
Rights Holder - Josef Weinberger