The Wind in the Willows at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre

Join the young and talented members of The Yellow Door Theatre Project and their professional guests
for the world premiere of a new musical theatre adapation by Barbara Worthy and John-Luke Addison
of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, December 15 to 17.

The following article was written by Gryffin Schirru, who will play the role of Mole in the 2017 premiere production of The Wind in the Willows. 

My name is Gryffin Schirru. I’m a grade 10 student at Welland Centennial Secondary School. I am honoured to portray the role of Mole in the 2017 premiere production of The Wind in the Willows by Barbara Worthy and John-Luke Addison, presented by Yellow Door Theatre Project. Yellow Door is a charity organisation aimed at giving young people experience in professional theatre. They offer top-notch musical theatre training to youth in the Niagara Region, so for the last two years, my family has made the commute from Welland so that I may take part in Yellow Door classes and productions.

Yellow Door offers kids a unique experience in theatre which includes professional rehearsals with rigid schedules, seasoned actors as mentors (we are lucky to have Mr. Kelly Wong and Mr. Guy Bannerman of the Shaw Festival in our ensemble), lessons in theatre etiquette, staging full-scale productions, and teaching effective time management skills. Yellow Door encourages kids to follow their hearts into the bountiful world of the stage, with support, hands-on training, and skills to pursue a career in theatre.

The cast and crew of The Wind in the Willows are tackling a brand new piece of Canadian musical theatre, thanks to a grant from the Niagara Investment in Culture. A new work means that this musical is entirely our own. We can’t just hit the Internet and look up how past actors have tackled a scene or a song. We do, however, have our fantastic playwright Barbara Worthy and composer John-Luke Addison on hand to explain to us their vision and ideas. It’s harder work, but so much more fun!

Our cast of actors (some as young as eight) and the seasoned veterans we are working with had a conversation about what The Wind in the Willows means to them. The best answer was from one of our youngest members; “I love animals that live human lives!” Beautiful creatures with alien mannerisms living in an alien world, like a mole, rat, toad, or badger, have always fascinated us. Animals seem so wise, content, and comfortable in their place. We long to communicate with them, to be their friends, to learn from their simplicity in our over-complicated world. When the wisdom of these animals is placed in a familiar context, with an old-world charm, young and old alike are entranced and educated by their journeys. We can relate to them, share their struggles, hopes, and dreams. They can help us overcome our own troubles, no matter who or where we are.

Each and every character holds a powerful teaching that all make up the main message of this piece; the importance of friendship. Rat teaches us to take care of each other. Badger teaches us to be cautious, but to trust each other, and ourselves. Toad teaches us to have fun. Mole teaches us to accept each other for who we are. All of us go on immense personal journeys. I, too, have been changed, for the better, by the journey of young Mole. We can all gain from treating our friends a little better. I hope that The Wind in the Willows will teach our audience to listen a little more to their loved ones.

The Wind in the Willows
A World Premiere of A New Canadian Musical
December 15-17

Presented by: Yellow Door Theatre Project
At the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre
250 St Paul St, St Catharines, ON

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