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Community raises the curtain to a show for everyone this December

AS theatre director, Claudia Pepler, celebrates 21 years of working at The Merlin, this year’s Christmas production sees a large and enthusiastic number of the town’s community joining in the season’s family show, The Wind in the Willows. 

The cast of Wind in the Willows.

With a cast of over 20 known and loved local actors, two teams of adorable young dancers from the town’s Tri.Art Dance Academy and a live band leading the music, The Wind in the Willow is set to showcase the very best of Somerset talent, both young and old.  

Claudia Pepler says, “Everyone is thrilled to be back on stage; they can’t wait to perform this magnificent show in front of a live audience. But our local connections go beyond the performers too, with the set being designed by Patrick Withey, from Black Hound Productions, the company that brought you last year’s sell out Bea and the Winter Winds. I sometimes have to stop and take stock of just how much the people of Frome can do. It’s uplifting and heart-warming. We are so, so lucky.” 

Based on Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic, and with a book by Oscar-winning screenwriter and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and songs by Olivier Award-winners George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, The Wind in the Willows is a wild, thrill-seeking tale about what it truly means to be a friend.  

This piece of musical theatre-comedy follows Mole, Rat, Badger, and the impulsive Mr. Toad. With Mr. Toad’s beloved home under threat from the notorious Chief Weasel and his gang of sinister Wild Wooders, he must attempt daring escapes, adventures and heroic battles to win. 

Despite being written in 1908, the story carries a very modern day message with an environmental theme running throughout. Toad, addicted to faster and more powerful vehicles, causes distress to some of nature’s favourite creatures such as the hedgehogs, trying to cross the road, and the poor horse, who pulls the caravan.  

The Merlin team has embraced the environmental awareness theme within some, so far very secretly-kept, designs in its creative and sensitively built stage set. Watch this space!  

Full of humour, wit, a gorgeous, soaring score, and heart-warming lessons of friendship, everyone is welcomed to the theatre where, as part of The Merlin’s ongoing aims to encourage inclusivity, there will be a ‘relaxed’ performance on the morning of Saturday 11th December. With reduction in sound levels, sensitivity to lighting effects and a relaxed attitude to movement within the auditorium, as well as staff and cast awareness, the Merlin team will make adjustments to ensure the experience is as accessible as possible to all. 

Full details of The Wind in the Willows, running from 8th-11th December (various times) can be found at www.merlintheatre.co.uk

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