The Court Theatre, Bernard Street, Addington, Christchurch

23/11/2019 - 18/01/2020

Production Details


Audiences can expect to be whisked away to a beautiful world of adventurous animals and woodland magic in The Court Theatre’s upcoming summer season of The Wind in the Willows.

“Most people will be familiar with the story or grew up with it, so it’s an honest interpretation of the tale they know and love – with a twist,” says Assistant Director Stephen Robertson, who is also the costume designer and choreographer.

Together with The Court’s Artistic Director Ross Gumbley and Musical Director Richard Marrett, The Court Theatre is reviving this classic tale for a spectacular summer season, last performed at the theatre in 1995.

“Our approach is not to try and recreate something from the past, but how we can best tell this story now and really keep the core of The Wind in the Willows,” explains Gumbley.

With an exciting new concept, audiences can expect thrilling theatrical magic, whether they’ve seen the show before or not.

“Our idea is that the animals in the story have found this old abandoned theatre and they’re putting on the play!” explains Gumbley.

With a cast of 22 stars stunningly costumed as rabbits, squirrels and all sorts of woodland creatures, the characters will be frantically running around on-stage, creating snow, smoke and everything needed to set the scene for this wondrous piece of theatre.

“It’s going to be magic,” says Robertson. “It’s a period piece with a twist. From a costume point of view, it’s really big. There’s probably going to be 150 costumes – and each costume has about six to nine pieces…”

The set, designed by Julian Southgate, is full of magic, with a boat, train and several motor vehicles appearing on-stage to wow audiences.

The Wind in the Willows deserves a retelling because its charm hasn’t faded,” says Gumbley. “It’s a quintessential good time with characters that, even if you don’t already know them, will steal their way into your heart.”

The main cast playing those beloved characters includes Cameron Rhodes as Toad; Eilish Moran as Mole; Gregory Cooper as Ratty; Tom Trevella as Badger and Andrew Todd as Albert, the role that Gumbley played when he was part of the show in the ‘90s.

“It’s going to be a lovely, visual, fast-paced comedy feast for the family – and that includes the adults. It’s not a kids show,” says Robertson. “It’s wonderful for families, but it’s not purely a kids show. The Wind in the Willows is one of those timeless pieces like Mary Poppins – it’ll always be with us.”

The Wind in the Willows
The Court Theatre’s mainstage
23 November 2019 – 18 January 2020
Show Sponsor: Golden Healthcare Group
Show Times
Monday & Thursday 6:30pm
● Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat 7:30pm
Forum 6:30pm Monday 25 November
Matinees: 2:00pm Saturday 14 December; 4:00pm Sunday 22 December; 4:00pm Sunday 29 December
Ticket Prices
Adult $65 – $72 | Senior (65+) $58 – $65
Group (6+) $55 – $62 | Supporter $55 – $62
Child (under 18) $30 | 30 Below (limited numbers) $30
Bookings: phone 03 963 0870 or visit  

Toad Cameron Rhodes
Mole Eilish Moran
Ratty Gregory Cooper
Badger Tom Trevella
Albert Andrew Todd
Hannah Austin
Kathleen Burns
Greta Casey-Solly
Monique Clementson
Cameron Douglas
Ben Freeth
Sam Harris
Fergus Inder
Kira Josephson

Director Ross Gumbley
Assistant Director/Costume Designer/Choreographer Stephen Robertson
Musical Director & Sound Designer Richard Marrett
Set & Properties Designer Julian Southgate
Lighting Designer Giles Tanner
Stage Manager Erica Browne
Assistant Stage Manager Scott Leighton

Theatre , Musical , Family ,

Forest-dwelling Fantasia

Review by Charlotte Filipov 27th Nov 2019

The Court Theatre’s The Wind in The Willows follows the ever-loved classical tale of Mole, Ratty, Badger and Toad of Toad Hall. The script was adapted from Kenneth Grahame’s story by Alan Bennett in 1991, bringing a renewed lens to the original tale, now nearly thirty years established in theatre. Director Ross Gumbley has taken the show to a new place with his cast and vision. He transports the audience to an English woodland evocative of the nostalgic excitement and fantasy of Beatrix Potter, occasionally giving way to a haunted, dark territory with its crippled, shadowy trees that seem to move by themselves.

Gumbley’s cast has taken on this family-favourite play with light-heartedness and integrity. The audience is enthralled with surprise and delight with the seasonal pantomime, which, beyond carolling field mice, is not particularly seasonal. Bennetts’s adaptation leaves out Kenneth Grahame’s side-stories of emotional development that involve Mole and Rat’s riverside perambulating in favour of bombastic Toad-oriented action. This allows plenty of space for the elaborate effects that encapsulate all of the stand-out qualities of the production team. [More


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A storybook brought vividly to life

Review by Tony Ryan 24th Nov 2019

The Court Theatre’s new production of The Wind in the Willows may not be the riotously funny or fast-paced theatrical hurly-burly of the sort that is often thrown at us these days, but if you don’t need to be assaulted with sledgehammer-like impact in order to respond to live theatre, there is much to enjoy in Ross Gumbley’s direction of Alan Bennett’s stage adaption of this classic.

Apart from a couple of the play’s main characters, which need to be cast with more experienced actors of a ‘certain age’, the cast of more than twenty performers is predominantly young, talented and notably versatile. Many are becoming increasingly familiar, not only at Court Theatre but in other companies as well, including some of their own initiative. Christchurch theatre is certainly benefiting hugely from graduates of the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art (NASDA).

In the past we have seen many of these performers in more significant roles and so the depth of characterisation right down to the play’s various mice, rabbits and squirrels is very impressive indeed. The entry of the otters, swimming in the river, gets a big laugh from the opening night audience and I particularly enjoy the group of nasty weasels, even if Kathleen Burns’ very funny portrayal of Weasel Norman is clearly based on the Catherine Tate character ‘Nan’.

The ubiquitous Eilish Moran seems able to take on almost any sort of character. Her engaging incarnation as Mole is full of humour, personality and sparkle, and she proves an ideal foil for Gregory Cooper’s pernickety and dogmatic Ratty. Tom Trevella’s congenial and visually striking Badger is perhaps a just little too amiable to make the most of the contrast between the authoritative and softer sides of his character, so that his relenting to the whims of his companions seems just a little too easy at times.

The central role of Toad receives an animated and sympathetic, if rather generalised, characterisation from Cameron Rhodes which doesn’t quite erase memories of Mark Hadlow’s more quirkily individual portrayal in an earlier Court production. However, Rhodes’ depiction of Toad’s thoughtless and self-entitled nature comes across effectively and entertainingly throughout the evening.

I’ve already mentioned the real depth of characterisation among this very large cast, far too numerous to mention all individually, but there are some delightful cameos from Andrew Todd (Albert the horse), Fergus Inder (Chief Weasel and Train Driver) and especially Monique Clementson’s extraordinarily batty Magistrate. 

The play’s few songs by Jeremy Sams, while appropriate in their dramatic context, have little originality or character, but the insertion of In the Bleak Midwinter at the end of the first half of the show demonstrates the versatility and vocal abilities of the young cast. Beautifully sung in four-part harmony with stillness and tonal opulence, it’s a truly magical moment.

Giles Tanner’s subtly varied and, when required, quite spectacular lighting, and Stephen Robertson’s multitude of imaginatively designed costumes, are huge assets in this production, and Julian Southgate’s wonderfully old-worldly set, which greets us as we enter the auditorium, is like a sumptuous storybook cover begging to be opened. And then, as director Ross Gumbley opens it and turns its pages, Kenneth Grahame’s riverbank animal world comes vividly to life.


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