Cris Penfold reprises Willows role

Published October 3, 2014

Cris Penfold will reprise his role as Toad in the Royal Opera House’s Olivier Award-winning production of The Wind In The Willows when it returns to the West End this Christmas.

The actor and dancer, who performed in the production’s 2013 run at the Duchess Theatre, will once again sport Toad’s red velvet waistcoat and garish checked trousers to wreak havoc at the Vaudeville Theatre from 26 November to 17 January.

He is joined by another of the show’s former cast members, Sonya Cullingford, who appeared in the production when it played at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio Theatre in 2012.

The actress, whose recent credits include Punchdrunk’s recent hit The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable, is joined by one of her co-stars from the promenade production, Ira Mandela Siobhan.

Mandela Siobhan, whose other London stage credits include Fela! at the National Theatre, will play the retiring Badge to Cullingford’s rug-dwelling Mole.

Completing the tale’s well-known quartet of woodland creatures is Martin Harvey, who will play Ratty. The actor/dancer, who boasts numerous credits for the Royal Ballet, is probably best known to West End audiences for taking the lead role in the 2008 run of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage.

The four performers join narrator Alan Titchmarsh and a cast that is completed by Ewan Wardrop, Kayleigh Gore, Jay Webb, Alastair Postlewaite, Jessica Ellen, Rachael Mossom, Jo Meredith and Aron Wild.

Based on the children’s classic by Kenneth Grahame, the family show retells the adventures of Toad, Ratty, Mole and Badger as the serenity of their riverbank is rocked by a speeding car, galloping caravan and racing train, and criminal deeds are cooked up in the depths of the Wild Wood.

The Wind In The Willows, which received its premiere more than a decade ago, is directed and choreographed by Will Tuckett and took home the Best Entertainment and Family Award at this year’s Olivier Awards with MasterCard.

The production will bring its award-winning blend of song, music, dance and puppetry to the Vaudeville Theatre this festive season following the current run of musical theatre satire Forbidden Broadway, which closes on 22 November.