JAMIE BAUGHAN plays Toad in the Rose Theatre Kingston’s Christmas production of The Wind in the Willows. Adapted and directed by Ciaran McConville, following previous seasonal hits with A Christmas Carol and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, the production also features young local actors from the Rose Youth Theatre alongside the professional cast. The production runs from the 6th December until the 3rd January – buy tickets here.
Theatre Bubble: What makes The Wind in the Willows a perfect Christmas show?
Jamie Baughan: Well, the story in our adaptation of The Wind in the Willows spans the Christmas period. There is a beautiful scene we have where the Riverbankers come to Mole End caroling. Our brilliant composer/musical director, Eamonn O’Dwyer has arranged a gorgeous version of ‘In the bleak mid-winter’ for it. For me, Christmas is a time that I often end up returning to spend with family and I think the theme of ‘home’ (and what it means to us), is strong both in the book and our version. I think our show is also very poignant, very funny and hugely entertaining – which you want from any show but especially if it’s a Christmas trip to the theatre.
TB: For this show you’re working alongside actors from the Rose Youth Theatre. Can you tell us more about this experience and how they are incorporated into the show?
JB: I’m loving it. We have a young company of 46 and they are a VERY talented bunch. They work in two teams of 24 so we rehearse everything twice, once with each team. Our young company are very much drivers of the show. Not only are they playing some fantastic parts in the piece, but also I think one of the real strengths of our production is the level of detail afforded to us by being able to have so many animals from the Riverbank and the Wild Wood populating our world on stage. It really helps bring the piece to life. I love watching the different characterisations that both teams bring – no two hedgehogs are the same! I almost want folk to see the show twice so that they get both teams. Also, some of the physical work that the young company is doing is incredible – I’d venture to say that it’s worth the price of a ticket just to come and see the amazing animal work of our two Catherine Coots.
TB: What advice do you have for anyone considering a career as an actor?
JB: Go for it! Work hard. Persevere. If you need to, train. Not only do I think my time at drama school shaped me hugely as an actor, but it was also three of my favourite years of my life. An incredible acting teacher called Reuven Adiv once wrote on my report, ‘Stay curious, not just in acting but in life, which is the stuff writers write about’. I think that’s hugely important – as an actor you need life experiences to draw upon to feed your work. So get out into the world and work hard, fall in love, dance, play, read, cry, sing, laugh, explore… and stay curious. And, if it is your passion, don’t let anyone tell you it’s not a ‘sensible’ job, if it’s not right for you you’ll find out in time, but now… go for it, with everything you’ve got. As Kenneth Grahame writes: “Take the adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes!” And good luck!
TB: How do you feel about working two performances a day across the entire Christmas period, except for the big day itself?
JB: Really excited – I feel very fortunate to be working on such an incredible piece. The cast is lovely (and brilliant), the creative team’s great and I think we’re building a really, REALLY exciting production, which I can’t wait for people to see. Christmas shows are always hard work when you’re doing up to 12 shows a week but I love working hard and I love my work. So I feel great about it!