Friday, January 3, 2014

My Melbourne Wanderings: The Wind In The Willows

Riverside with Head Chief Rabbit & Weasel
This evening we took the kids out to the Royal Botanical Gardens to see The Wind In The Willows. Normally I would never take the littlies to a play, but this was perfect for them.

The Wind in The Willows is an outdoor play, and all visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic blanket and dinner to enjoy while watching. Despite the Gardens being enormous, we found the play quickly enough thanks to the numerous signs and settled the kids in front of a tree so that we weren't blocking anyone if the toddlers wanted to sit in the pram to watch.

The main "stage" area being a long section of lakeside, the audience wasn't more than half a dozen families deep at any point despite having a good crowd, so it was easy for everyone to see. As a couple of characters warmed up the crowd, my kids were all drawn in, even 12 year old Madeleine who was initially a little doubtful that she would be interested.

The characters costumes, makeup, and personalities were all huge, plenty of singing and audience participation giving us lots of laughs. My kids loved waggling their ears, wiggling noses, and crying out "Windy Willows". All three cheered and booed throughout the night, finding it hysterical when Head Chief Rabbit Roscoe Mathers helped himself to various picnic baskets.

Maddy got a good laugh at references to "Justin Beaver", "Miley Cyprus" Tree's, and, over in that "One Direction". At one stage the actors took all the kids off for a good run around the park searching for Portly, the missing little Otter child, giving the grownups a chance to stretch our legs and just generally enjoy some lighter, adult humour while the stouts and weasels took over Toad Hall. There was some surprise in the audience when an actor helped himself to a swig of wine from a picnic basket, but mostly giggles.

Meet and greet with the innocent Mole character!

Be prepared to pack up and move 20 meters to a slightly different location, away from Ratty's "River" and towards "Toad Hall". We had just started to unpack dinner when it became time to move, but fortunately we were able to just throw it all the pram when Head Chief Rabbit made the call to us all to move. Either keep your food easily transported, eat early on, or wait till you are really settled at Toad Hall.

Toad Hall, after our relocation
Parking was pretty easy with plenty of street parking available - $2 per hour till 6:30pm then free from then (watch out for the 1/2 hour spaces that cost a little more).
Price Tag
At $90 for a family of 4 or $25 per person, this event doesn't come cheap but in comparison to other live theatre family events is pretty affordable. Given that the little ones can walk around, work off the fidgets, and you can BYO (actually must BYO) the dinner and snacks this is probably a format of live performance I prefer. Tickets are available online at Ticketmaster or The Australian Shakespeare Company. Tickets can also be purchased at the Box Office which opens 1 hour prior to the event however tickets are not guaranteed. Babies under 12 months do not require a ticket, all other children pay the standard ticket price of $25.
Making The Most
If you've never been to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne (Birdwood Avenue, Gate F) before make sure you head in early to have a look around first. Beautiful gardens, plenty of open lawn, HEAPS to look at makes it a worthwhile outing first. There was no charge to enter, look around and generally waste time, but I suspect there are additional activities that can be done in the park for a small cover charge.
Keep An Eye On
Tamalyn Davies as the young otter Portly, she was so cute, completely into her part and lots of fun to watch. Andrew Dunne as Mr Toad is fascinating too - all the actors had brilliant little animalistic mannerisms, but somehow everything about Andrew Dunne screamed obnoxious frog.

Andrew Dunne as Mr Toad
The Wind in The Willows will be running in both the Sydney and Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens for its 27th season until January 25th 2014. Definitely a good one to take the whole family to, especially if like me your kids cover all ages. 

My family was gifted tickets to see the show, but as you would expect my thoughts and research into the show are my own.

1 comment:

  1. Oh that sounds fantastic! We rarely get anything like that in Perth, and when we do, I must admit I'm a bit lazy. I usually can't be bothered packing the 3 kids up and all the associated sustenance. Sounds like it was well and truly worth it though!


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