The Wind in the Willows: Toady Tales

November 1, 2018

With one week to go until The Wind in the Willows opens, we get a sneak peek into the rehearsal room with Phil Yarrow, who plays Toad.


  • Hello Phil! Thank you for talking taking the time to talk to us. With only one week to go you must be very busy…

A week to go? Yikes! Where has all the time gone.

  • There are lots of people in the room. Who’s in charge?

It takes a huge team to get the show together. Let me give you a quick ‘Who’s Who’:

Our show has 6 performers, playing lots of different characters, and I’m one of them. It’s our job to know our lines, where to go in each scene, and where we should be between scenes.

Next is our Director. The director for this show is called Roman. It’s Roman’s job to make sure the whole show looks and sounds the way he wants it to, and that the story makes sense.

In the rehearsal room you’ll also find our Stage Management Team, Jordan and Emma. Who’s in charge in the rehearsal room? Jordan is! It’s Jordan’s job to make sure that the rehearsal room works well, safely, and on time. She has a big book which has all of the information about the show. She’s very busy! Emma will be backstage during the show making sure that everyone, and everything, is in the right place at the right time.

Julian is our Musical Director. He pops in and out of rehearsal room, working on the sounds and songs. He’s a very clever chap, and he writes song very quickly.

We also get visits from Aaron (our Lighting Designer), Liz (our Designer), Annie (our Costume Supervisor), Clare, Liam and Sofia who make all the props, and Bethan our Fight Director (yes, she tells us how to pretend to fight!).

  • What do you do in rehearsals?

At this point it’s all about running parts of the show. I don’t mean that we jog around, we just go over bits of the play to practice them. We might go through a particular scene, or a tricky section, or we might do half of the play, or the whole thing! It’s about doing things again, and again, and again, so they’re the best that they can be. We practice our lines, moves, fights and songs.

  • Do you like singing the songs? 

Short answer? Yes! I love singing, and I love singing as part of a group. Julian has written some beautiful, funny, challenging and eerie music. The rest of the cast are great singers and it’s an absolute pleasure to be able to sing with them every day.

  • Where is the set and costumes? 

We don’t tend to have much set in the rehearsal room. The floor of the room is ‘marked up’ to look like the floor of the theatre. This means that Jordan and Emma work with Liz (designer) to put lots of different coloured tape on the floor showing us where we can and can not go, otherwise we have to use our imaginations. The actual set is being built by Paula, Luis and Graeme on the actual stage. We’ll see that, for the first time, next week in Tech Week.

It’s a similar story with costumes. We have a few bits and pieces in the rehearsal room, but Annie, Jess and Liz are all working really hard making all of the costumes. That’s ALL OF THE COSTUMES for ALL SIX OF US! They’re a very clever bunch.

  • There’s so much to remember. How do you keep track of what you have to do? 

Personally, I write everything down in my script. It’s really important to write down where you move, and what you’re using and wearing, as well as what you say. It’s then very important to learn those so that you can work without a script in your hand. Then, it’s about doing it again, and again, and again, until it comes to you without having to think about it. If you do get lost, Jordan has a record of EVERYTHING, so she can help you!

  • Can you tell us which part of the show you’re most looking forward to?

There is SO much I’m looking forward to in this show! I always love the first ‘stagger through’. This is when we run the whole show for the first time, in the rehearsal room. You would be very disappointed if you’d paid to watch it, because it’s very rough. As a performer, though, it’s so exciting to get a sense of what the show will look and feel like. From there we add other exciting elements; the lights, the costumes, the sound effects, and finally…the audience. I’m really looking forward to being part of another great Polka production, and seeing in 2019 on the riverbank!


Next week we talk to Edd Muruako (Badger) who will be telling us all about Tech Week. 


The Wind in the Willows

9 Nov – 17 Feb | Recommended Ages 5+