Back to Arts

Olympia artists turn to Kickstarter for upcoming audio play

"The Wind in the Willows" and your wallet

"THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS": From left, Jason Haws as Toad and Heather Christopher as Mirror Toad in the original stage production. Photo credit: David A. Nowitz

Recommend Article
Total Recommendations (0)
Clip Article Email Article Print Article Share Article

If The Wind in the Willows was not a part of your childhood, you should perhaps talk to your parents about their lack of good decision-making. The classic tale focuses on the pastoral adventures of four talking animals and includes such fun as battles with weasels and the adventures of the impulsive and very rich Mr. Toad - a member of the 1 percent who totally doesn't get it, but he's an amphibian so he makes it work.

Originally a book by Kenneth Grahame published in 1908, The Wind in the Willows has successfully morphed into stage productions, radio programs, movies and TV shows. Never underestimate the power of a charming and very rich toad.

In late 2012, a locally adapted version of the story went on stage at South Puget Sound Community College as part of the Olympia Family Theater season.

"Adaptation is a tricky thing in general," says Andrew Gordon, playwright. "Our affection for Grahame's original story is what drove us to want to adapt it in the first place, but there were elements of the story that we wanted to tweak, to suit our times and worldview. In the end, I think we honored Grahame's original work, while creating a version that is accessible and relevant to a modern audience."

The most noticeable change to the story was that this adaptation turned it into a musical with 11 songs, but the group also sought to bring Grahame's classic into modern day a bit. This included adding in more relevant female characters - in Grahame's original, only three out of 60 characters were female. They also softened up Mr. Toad's character, giving him more of a connection to his friends.

Now, the original four Olympia-based artists who readapted the play are teaming up with a sound engineer to create an audio version. They are: Andrew Gordon (playwright/adapter/co-lyricist/co-director, audio version), Jenny Greenlee (director on stage; co-director, audio version), Bruce Whitney (composer/co-lyricist/Best Maestro), Daven Tillinghast (chief lyricist) and John Manini (sound engineer).

The audio version will be a fully produced, full-cast recording of an audio-specific adaptation of the play with music and sound effects. The stage production will be the basis for the production, but the artists involved have tweaked their work a bit to ensure all visual elements translate into audio-only ones. Because there aren't the same kind of time constraints on the audio version, they also added back in two whole chapters from the book that had to be cut for the play - which also means two additional songs from what audiences heard live.

"We will be recording in a quiet and sterile environment and using a lot of close microphone techniques to capture the presence of the characters voices and mannerisms which we can then minimally manipulate in post-production to suit the scene as needed," says Manini. "The success of the adaptation relies on our talented cast delivering a rock solid performance, a task with which they have considerable experience, in an environment they are perhaps unaccustomed to - microphones are more fickle than the average audience member."

To help fund the project, a Kickstarter fundraiser is on until April 6. They hope to raise $4,000. Gifts for supporters include digital downloads and CDs of the production, signed copies of scripts and invitations to recording sessions. The very top level of supporters even get a minor role in the production.

comments powered by Disqus

Site Search