The Wind in the Willows, Duchess Theatre

At Christmas many charming productions reinstate themselves after their summer hibernation. One such show is the Royal Opera House‘s ‘The Wind in the Willows‘ which is currently enjoying a run at its new home, The Duchess Theatre. This short show was first performed in the Linbury Theatre in 2002, and after four sold-out runs has now transferred to London’s glittering West End.

Kenneth Grahame’s popular tale is loved by both young and old. Originally written for his son (known affectionately as ‘Mouse’), it was the author’s only lasting literary success. Often realised on stage, this production, directed and choreographed by Will Tuckett, combines dance, music, puppetry and theatre.

The famed national treasure Tony Robinson acts as Kenneth Grahame and is a wise and animated storyteller from start to finish. He follows Ratty, Badger, Mole, and Toad on their adventures on the riverbank. Cris Penfold is wonderfully manic as Toad of Toad Hall and Clemmie Sveaas is particularly endearing as the timid but thoughtful Mole.

The light and lyrical music is written by Martin Ward in the style of George Butterworth, with folky melodies that perfectly evoke the atmosphere of the tranquil river bank, and faster passages for the more frantic scenes.

This production of The Wind in the Willows is an enjoyable show for all the family – escape the cold streets of London and take a trip down the river with Ratty and friends.

The Wind in the Willows continues until February 1st 2014, more information and book here.

Hurly Burly Show, Duchess Theatre

The fun, flamboyant and fabulously flirty Hurly Burly show is in town for a strictly limited season of twelve weeks.

I joined Kylie Minogue and other stars at the VIP Gala night for London’s best burlesque production. The crowd, orchestra and performers are all beautiful, I spotted the kick-ass retro girl band the Tootsie Rollers and other familiar faces… celebrities and commoners alike all dressed for the occasion in fishnet stockings, high heels and corsets.

Miss Polly Rae is the star femme fatale and founder of The Hurly Burly Show. She is a delicious redhead, I have seen previously at the Volupte afternoon tea. She leads the Hurly Burly girlies in joyfully naughty performances, strutting her stuff and ruffling her feathers much to the delight of the whooping audience. Polly has it all, cheeky character and striking looks in abundance. I loved all her routines, but the final Japanese inspired dance is particularly elaborate and alluring. The rest of the crew are just as impressive, each girl with her own assets and persona. We loved the Head Girl played by Rachel Muldoon, whose balletic choreography and sultry looks make her an exemplary burlesque and dippy blonde Caroline Amer is hilarious on stage and has a tremendous voice.

The production is unlike any other… burlesque is typically performed in small more intimate venues and yet in the big West End Duchess Theatre, the Hurly Burly show excels and miraculously still feels cosy. Credit surely must go to the brilliant creative team: director William Baker, musical director Steve Anderson, choreographer Ashley Wallen and production designer Alan Macdonald. The show doesn’t have much of a narrative, instead the gaggle of gals is commanded by the compere Joanna Woodward who introduces each titillating act.

First thing I did when I got home? Went straight to the computer, and looked up the schedule for burlesque lessons at Pineapple Dance Studios… I am desperate to learn how to move like these strong, sassy, sexy women.

Oh and I must admit, I’ve fallen a little bit in love with Miss Polly Rae, I think after seeing this show, you will too.

Hurly Burly show continues until 22 September book here.