Farah Alvin, Tituss Burgess, Tom Deckman Among Cast of A Wind in the Willows Christmas World Premiere in NJ
By Michael Gioia
Two River Theater Company will present the world premiere of A Wind in the Willows Christmas, a new musical inspired by the Kenneth Grahame children's classic, beginning Dec. 8, prior to an official opening Dec. 15, at the company's Rechnitz Theater.
Directed by Amanda Dehnert with music direction by James Sampliner, the limited engagement will continue through Dec. 30. A special performance for families affected by Hurricane Sandy will be offered Dec. 11 at 7 PM.
Commissioned and developed by Two River Theater, A Wind in the Willows Christmas features music by Mike Reid, lyrics by Sarah Schlesinger and a book by Mindi Dickstein. The musical "follows the adventures of the story's beloved characters — Mole, the Water Rat, Dr. Badger and Mr. Toad — as they discover that home is where your friends are," according to Two River.
The cast includes Farah Alvin (The Marvelous Wonderettes, Nine) as Mrs. Otter, Tituss Burgess (The Little Mermaid) as Mr. Toa, Nick Choksi (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 at Ars Nova) as Rat, Kathy Connolly (A Midsummer Night's Dream at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey) as Weasel/Rabbit, Tom Deckman (Monty Python's Spamalot) as Mole, John Garry (Bunnicula for Theatreworks/USA) as Weasel/Rabbit, John Jellison (Memphis, Sunday in the Park with George) as Dr. Badger and Dana Steingold (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee national tour) as Little Portly.
Composer Reid and lyricist Schlesinger most recently wrote In This House, which premiered at Two River last season. Dickstein wrote the lyrics for the Broadway musical Little Women.
Other members of the creative team include scenic and costume designer Philip Witcomb, lighting designer Tyler Micoleau and sound designer Zachary Williamson. The orchestrations are by Danny Larsen, and the stage manager is Samantha Greene.
Additionally, Two River will offer pre-show activities and post-show discussions at every performance, a Spanish-language translation performance (Dec. 9 at 4 PM) and "Scout Days" for local Boy and Girl Scouts (Dec. 27-28 at noon).
Two River Theater Company, under the leadership of artistic director John Dias and managing director Michael Hurst, is dedicated to "producing great classics from the American and world stage, creating new plays and musicals for the American theatre, and serving its diverse and multigenerational community through unique partnerships and education programs."
The Rechnitz Theater is located at 21 Bridge Avenue in Red Bank, NJ. For more information and tickets, call (732) 345-1400 or visit TRTC.org.
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