2017 West End
The Wind in the Willows the Musical - Synopsis
With the arrival of spring and fine weather outside, Mole loses patience with spring cleaning ("Spring"). He flees his underground home, emerging to take in the air and ends up at the river, which he has never seen before. Here he meets Rat (a water vole), who at this time of year spends all his days in, on and close by the river. Rat takes Mole for a ride in his rowing boat ("Messing About in a Boat"). After this, he shares his picnic and an enduring friendship is born. Mrs. Otter gate crashes the friend’s picnic looking for her daughter Portia who has a habit of wandering off in search of food. Rat and Mrs Otter warn Mole about the inhabitants of the Wild Wood and tell him of wise but solitary Badger who lives there. Then of the extraordinary amphibian, Mr Toad, and his need for speed ("Speed is of the Essence").
Summer is drawing near, and the Swallows arrive ("One Swallow Does Not a Summer Make"). Mole and Rat visit Toad Hall at the request of Mr Toad. Mr Toad is rich, jovial, friendly and kind-hearted, but aimless and conceited; he regularly becomes obsessed with current fads, only to abandon them abruptly. Having recently given up boating, Mr Toad's current craze is his horse-drawn caravan. He persuades the reluctant Rat and willing Mole to join him on a trip ("The Open Road"). Having parked at the roadside for an overnight stop, a passing motor car scares the horse, causing the caravan to overturn into a ditch. Rather than be upset Mr Toad changes his obsession again and now focuses on the new-fangled motor-car. In his new racer, he terrorises his neighbours, particularly a family of nervous Hedgehogs ("The Hedgehog's Nightmare"). He is truly obsessed with his motor-car, and the animals are both fascinated and dismayed about the new craze, which he enthuses about ("The Amazing Mr Toad").
Determined to save Mr Toad from himself, Mole insists Rat and he venture into the Wild Wood to call on the support of Badger. When Rat refuses, Mole ventures on the scary road alone. Pursued by the Chief Weasel and his Wild Wooders, Mole only escapes when Rat has a change of heart ("The Wild Wooders"). Unfortunately falling leaves of autumn have covered the path to Badger’s house and the two are lost in the Wild Wood ("Autumn"). When Mole injures himself on a boot scraper, Rat realises they have accidentally stumbled on Badger’s doorstep. As Badger invites them in, Chief Weasel calls his gang of Wild Wooders and tells them of his plot to steal Toad Hall so they can live the good-life. Portia, still looking for food, is kidnapped by the gang.
Inside Badger’s house, Mole and Rat convince Badger to come to Mr Toad’s aid ("A Friend is Still a Friend"). The trio arrive at Toad Hall to find that Mr Toad has ordered a new car after yet another crash and set out to guard him in his bedroom until he learns some sense. Mrs Otter arrives and when she begs the friends to help her find Portia, Mole suggests he looks after Mr Toad whilst the Rat and Badger join the search. Feigning illness, Mr Toad escapes Toad Hall, and steals a beautiful new car ("Toad's Escape").
After being arrested for his crime of stealing the car, a court scene takes place with the Wild Wooders as the jury, making sure that Mr Toad is imprisoned so they can take over Toad Hall and claim it as their own. Without showing much remorse, Toad recalls what happened - claiming that it was the car that stole him, and not the other way round, while Rat, Mole and Badger try and convince him to show some remorse for his crime. The scene ends with Mr Toad being sentenced to twenty years in jail ("As if in a Dream").
With Toad in prison, the Wild Wooders have taken over Toad Hall and are fattening up Portia, readying her for a feast to come ("We're Taking Over the Hall"). In prison, Mr Toad gains the sympathy of the Gaoler's Daughter, who helps him to escape disguised as a washerwoman ("To Be a Woman"). Walking through the Wood, Rat and Mole discuss the imprisonment of their friend when they come across Mole’s home . Homesick, having realised he hasn’t returned since the day he left his Spring cleaning, the friends have a humble feast, while Mole speaks fondly of his home ("A Place to Come Back To"). After this, some wassailing mice visit as is familiar to Mole, wishing well to the animals of the forest ("The Wassailing Mice"). As the choristers’ song ends, Badger bursts in to let Rat and Mole know that Mr Toad is now a criminal on the run. They set off again to save him from himself.
Though free again, Mr Toad is pursued by the police. He manages to board a railway engine manned by a sympathetic driver. Mr Toad jumps from the train when the law catches up and, still disguised as a washerwoman, comes across a horse-drawn barge. The barge's owner offers him a lift in exchange for Mr Toad's services as a washerwoman. After botching the wash, Mr Toad gets into a fight with the barge-woman, who tosses him into the canal. Soaked, Mr Toad flags down a passing car, which happens to be the very one he stole earlier. The car owner, not recognising Mr Toad in his disguise, permits him to drive the car. Once behind the wheel, he is possessed by his former passion and drives furiously, declaring his identity to the owner who tries to seize him leading to yet another crash ("The Greatest Great Escape").
Badger discovers Toad at the doors of Toad Hall. Badger and friends tell Mr Toad that Toad Hall has been taken over by weasels and stoats from the Wild Wood and even worse, that Portia is trapped inside. After Mole convinces two guards that an attack on the Hall is imminent Badger announces that he knows of a secret tunnel into Toad Hall through which the enemies may be attacked ("Hush!"). Badger, Mrs Otter, Rat, Mole and Mr Toad enter via the tunnel and pounce upon the unsuspecting Wild Wooders who are holding a celebratory party and about to cook Portia ("The Fight"). The friends celebrate, having driven away the intruders. It's spring once again, and the animals are working hard, while Rat and Mole quite happily row on the river together - they are both content in having one another's company over the adventures Toad has. Mr Toad holds a party to mark his return, although it doesn't seem that he's changed at all ("Finale").
The Wind in the Willows the Musical