Hobson’s Choice: Classic Musicals at the Pumphouse Theater

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Woodland creatures from Toad Hall and a band of female pirates headline two musical adventures set to bring the Pumphouse Theater to life.

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New group Untold Stories joins forces with Morpheus Theater to present the Canadian premiere of a new musical version of the classic tale of Toad, Badger, Mole and Ratty, the inhabitants of Toad Hall.

The new musical version of The Wind in the Willows, written by Julian Fellows (the creator of Downton Abbey) with George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, who collaborated with him on the musical Mary Poppins, opened at the Palladium Theater in London in 2017. Before touring the UK, it was filmed for cinema release.

Jason Bakaas, co-artistic director of Untold Stories, said that when his company was originally negotiating the production rituals for this new musical, “we thought we had the North American premiere, but a high school somewhere in the US released its version earlier this year, so we can only brag about having the Canadian premiere.

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The Wind in the Willows has been a popular children’s book since it was first published in 1908. It follows the adventures of four heroes, the friends they gather and the enemies they must defeat. In this musical, it’s the Weasel Gang of Wild Wooders who disturb the peace of the forest.

Yaz Ben Lamin as Chief Weasel in Untold Stories Theater's Wind in the Willows.  Photo Hanna Kerbes
Yaz Ben Lamin as Chief Weasel in Untold Stories Theater’s Wind in the Willows. Photo Hanna Kerbes .jpg

Bakaas, who has worked with StoryBook Theatre, Front Row Players, Cappuccino Theater and Morpheus, said he and Gad Gijon formed Untold Stories when they noticed “those other companies seem to use the same people all the time.

“We noticed that there were so many talented people who weren’t getting the opportunities they deserved. This is the first musical they’ve worked on.

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The cast of Untold’s The Wind in the Willows includes James Chandler as Mole, Austin Battung Arnaldo as Rat, Mike Duncalfe as Toad, Jane Phillips as Badger, and Yaz Ben Lamin as Chief Weasel.

The Wind in the Willows directed by Bakaas and Gijon runs at the Pumphouse Theater from April 15-23 with performances Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and matinees at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Advance tickets are available at untoldstories.com.

Winnifred Hume as Major General Stanley and Ginette Simonot as the Pirate Queen in Pirates of the Morpheus Theater.  Photo, Dorin McIntosh
Winnifred Hume as Major General Stanley and Ginette Simonot as the Pirate Queen in Pirates of the Morpheus Theater. Photo, Dorin McIntosh Photo by DORIN_MCINTOSH /.jpg

AVAST YE HEARTIES, THESE PIRATES ARE WOMEN

For its annual Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, the Morpheus Theater chose The Pirates of Penzance which, after 125 years, is still one of the most produced Gilbert and Sullivan musicals.

Pirates is the story of a young apprentice pirate who falls in love with the daughter of a major general only to discover that her contract with the pirate clan is too restrictive for him to have what he wants. In love, war and musicals, true love will always triumph, even over pirates. But it will take swashbuckling pirates, clumsy policemen, passed out lovers and a skilled Major General to right all the wrongs.

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The Pirates of Penzance are credited with creating the comedic pirate motif in theater and feature some of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most beloved songs, including the incredible I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major General.

To add to the already topsy-turvy nature of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas, Morpheus decided to reverse the genders of all the main characters, meaning the pirates are now all-female and the Major General’s wards are female. men. The police have both men and women in their ranks.

In Les Pirates de Morphée, Ginette Simonot plays the Pirate Queen with Evangeline Miably as the apprentice pirate Frédérique. Winnifred Hume is the Major General with Kyle Gould as Abel’s ward, who wins Frederique’s heart.

Morpheus’ Pirates of Penzance runs at the Pumphouse Theater from April 29-May 14 with the online version available May 12-14. Sessions are Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with matinees on May 1, 7, 8, and 14 at 2 p.m. For tickets, go to [email protected]

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