The Wind in the Willows: Behind the Scenes Magic
December 2, 2018
The cast of The Wind in the Willows are keeping very busy with special appearances, VIP parties and oh yes – the show! We still managed to pin down ensemble extraordinaire Kara Taylor to chat puppets, music and stage fighting (no rats were harmed in the making of this blog…)
Hi Kara Taylor! We loved your takeover on Instagram last weekend, it looks like a lot of fun being in The Wind in the Willows!
It is great fun and very silly on and off stage. We spend most of our time laughing, drinking tea and then doing a bit of acting, so I feel pretty lucky to call it my job.
You’re in the ensemble. What does that mean?
In this show being in the ensemble means that you play lots of characters throughout the play. Jess and I are the ensemble members and it means we spend most of our time when we aren’t on stage changing costumes so we can come on as different characters!
Is it fun changing character all the time?
It’s great fun! One second I am a French Black Rat, the next a Geordie rabbit (although, Phil who is actually from Newcastle is convinced we are Sunderland rabbits). It means I am never bored and always running about or crawling through traps getting ready for what is next. It’s challenging at times though as some of the costume changes are really quick – the fastest one is changing from the swallows into The Black Rat. Phil is waiting to take the swallow off me at the back of the theatre, then Jess and Phil quickly help me get into my costume and hand me the guitar and I run back on. If I don’t make the change, poor Andy would be stood on stage by himself with nothing to say! So it’s important it goes smoothly.
Which of your many characters is most fun to play?
That has to be a tie between the Black Rat and the Rabbit. For both characters, I get to run around the stage and generally be a bit silly, which is loads of fun.
We love Wilfred the Wasp! Have you named any of the other puppets?
We have! Our Wild Wooder puppets are called Clive (Phil’s puppet), Martin (Jess’s puppet) and Dave (my puppet) and then of course there is Miguel the Caterpillar which is operated by Edd and Phil.
Is it difficult to make them move?
The swallow puppets are difficult! They are heavy and massive, however the more shows we do the easier it is getting. It took a lot of getting used to though, as Jess and I have to operate the puppets, walk up and down the stairs and sing all at the same time.
We were very impressed by your funky guitar playing. Can you play any other instruments?
Thank you! I do, I play the piano and when I was younger I used to play the cello – although not as well as Andrea our champion cellist!
The Wild Wood is very creepy! I think it’s our favourite part. What’s your favourite part?
I think my favourite part of the show is the fight! It’s great fun and is one of the only times in the show where everyone is on stage together.
Are you really fighting when you fight on stage?
No, although hopefully it looks like we are! We had a great fight choreographer Beth, who created the fight sequence. Every day before the show we do it at 20% speed, 50% speed and 80% speed to make sure it is safe.