The Wind in the Willows: Squirreling Around

November 15, 2018

The Wind in the Willows is now open, and Polka is busy and bristling with excitement. We caught up with cast member Jessica Dennis to ask her what it’s like finally having an audience. 


  • Hi Jessica! Thank you so much for talking to us. How was opening weekend?

First shows are always a big mix of excitement and nerves. It is was brilliant to come out and see everybody’s excited faces and hear all the laughter, especially in the opening number. The audience is the final ingredient that makes a show come to life!

  • It must have been very different going from the rehearsal room to suddenly having a big audience?

It is very different indeed! We go from imagining most of the set and props, and guessing where there might be laughter and clapping to suddenly having everything. Sometimes audiences laugh at things that we didn’t even realise were funny! You have to be prepared for anything the audience might throw at you. It’s one of the most exciting things about performing in the theatre.

  • Have you done schools performances before? Are they different?

I have done lots of schools shows before and I love them! Although they can be quite noisy… The best thing about schools shows is that all of the audience know each other, so everyone is relaxed and no one is scared to laugh nice and loudly.

  •  I can imagine there’s lots of energy in a school audience! Does that help?

Absolutely! Every audience has an effect on how we perform the shows. Schools audiences are lovely and enthusiastic which makes us work even harder to keep all that energy going! We have to be big and loud and clear to make sure no one misses anything.

  • Can you see the audience when you’re on stage?

It all depends on where you stand and what the lights are like. Aaron (lighting designer) lights up the stage so that you can all see us clearly, but sometimes it’s very bright, which means we can’t always see very much. However there are some special moments when we get a little bit closer to the audience, but you will have to come along and to see which bits I mean…

  • Did you ever go to the theatre when you were at school?

My school didn’t really take us to the theatre, but luckily, my mum took to me to see all sorts of shows from musicals, to pantos to ballets. That’s when I knew I loved being in the theatre.

  • Can you remember the first show you went to? 

When I was very little, my mum actually took me to Polka, but I was so small and it so long ago that I can’t remember much of it! What we both remember was that it was very magical. So I am really pleased to be working here now!

Next week we go behind the scenes with Andrea and Andrew, who play Mole and Ratty.


The Wind in the Willows

9 Nov – 17 Feb | Recommended Ages 5+