The Wind in the Willows CFYT Review by Eleanor Hindman, The Weald

This fun and engaging production has everything you need to feel rejuvenated this winter season. As the popular children’s book The Wind in the Willows is explored in a new and exciting way, you have the opportunity to support an emerging theater that aims to encourage young people to take part in productions.

The Chichester Festival Youth Theater (CFYT) was founded in 1985 by Artistic Director John Gale with the aim of encouraging participation in theater from an early age. 38 years later, CFYT offers weekly sessions to more than 750 young people, giving them the opportunity to grow on and off the stage.

Each year CFYT puts on a Christmas production at the Chichester Festival Theatre, inviting young people from across West Sussex to audition for and perform in an amateur production.

This year, CFYT’s Christmas production of The Wind in the Willows commemorated the 19th anniversary of the tradition, the first being The Wizard of Oz in 2003.

The Wind in the Willows was first published in 1908 by writer Kenneth Grahame, who wrote the book based on bedtime stories he had told his son. Since then, the story has been adapted and interpreted in a variety of ways for both screen and stage.

Director Dale Rooks breathed new life into Alan Bennett’s adaptation of The Wind in the Willows by working with students to capture the essence of the story and characters. Anyone who knows the book knows how unique each character is. From Ratty to Mole, each role is very different and Rooks managed to reflect that in the way each character was portrayed.

Above all, what captured the soul of the children’s classic was the energy and enthusiasm of the young people who performed it. From Ratty to Mole, Toad to Badger, each character was brought to life with fervor and spirit by CFYT’s talented cast.

Credit also goes to Ryan Dawson Laight, who designed the extraordinary costumes that embodied the ferocity of the beloved storybook characters.

Now more than ever, it’s important to support organizations like CFYT to ensure their incredible work can continue for many years to come. Whether you show your support by participating in one of their productions or by volunteering, there are many ways to get involved and contribute to their work. The Wind in the Willows CFYT Review by Eleanor Hindman, The Weald

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