Tom Melly tells us about his directorial debut Toad of Toad Hall, our next production at SLT
Why did you choose this play?
Toad forms my first memory of seeing ‘proper’ theatre. It still brings back memories of the smell and feel of red plush seats, the sound of the orchestra warming up, and the elaborate proscenium sets. It was a children’s play, but a very different experience from the pantomimes I’d seen up until then, and I fell in love with it instantly.
We hear on the grapevine that it may not quite be the children’s classic that we know – anything you can reveal to us about your treatment of the play?
Well, we’re giving it a modern-day, semi-urban setting, and changed the gender of some of the principles, but more significantly, we’ve swapped the social status of various characters – hopefully in amusing and intriguing ways!
Tell us about the characters in the play, and your cast
We have four main characters – Toad, Rat, Mole and Badger – as well as a cast of thousands (well, six) who, as well as playing the villainous weasels, tackle the various cameo characters who pop in and out of the action. The actors include both old hands and new members of the SLT, and I have to say they’ve all been a fantastic, willing, and enthusiastic bunch, whatever absurdities I’ve asked of them.
How have you found your first experience of directing at SLT?
Is “terrifying” an acceptable answer? This is my first time directing at all, so at times overwhelming, but always enjoyable – particularly with such a wonderful cast!
Toad of Toad Hall runs 17 – 21 July at the Old Fire Station. You can buy tickets in advance here. We look forward to welcoming old and new members back at our refurbished West Norwood home.