Performers with the State University Theatre will journey back to younger days as they present the classic children’s story The Wind in the Willows starting April 21.
“My grandma used to read me The Wind in the Willows whenever I would go over to her house,” said Andy Schnabel, who plays a weasel in the play. “It is a story that has been with me for a very long time.”
The storyline follows Toad, the main character, from one hapless adventure to the next. Rat and Mole warn him repeatedly to quit his reckless behavior and settle down at home. Meanwhile, Mole and Rat are having adventures of their own.
The play closely follows the book but was forced to make some cuts because of time constraints.
“The four main characters are Toad (Allison Weiland), Mole (Katlin Limoges), Water Rat (Jake Windish) and Badger (Erin Wegleitner),” said Chris Guyotte, director of The Wind in the Willows. “Toad is crazy. He gets involved in a lot of different crazes, and some involve cars.”
The students involved look forward to playing their roles since children’s plays are different from other productions throughout the year.
“Toad is the crazy friend that everyone has. He kind of has ADD,” said Weiland, a senior communication studies and theatre major. “Toad teaches life lessons to kids since he doesn’t think about the outcomes of his actions sometimes.”
Schnabel, a junior communication studies and theatre major, also looks forward to his role.
“The weasels take over Toad Hall, the home of Toad,” he said. “My weasel is second-in-command of the weasel gang but has higher aspirations.”
The Wind in the Willows will be performed from April 21 to 24 at Doner Auditorium. It starts at 7:30 p.m. every night with a 2 p.m. matinee April 25. SDSU students get in free with their student ID.
In addition to its special status as a children’s play, The Wind in the Willows brings added excitement to the end of this year, as a new faculty member will direct the production.
This is Guyotte’s first year at SDSU, and he said he is excited to direct his first play here.
“The university takes children’s theater very seriously,” said Guyotte, a professor of communication studies and theatre. “It’s part of our main stage offering. I have to say, that’s something that attracted me to the job.”
Although Guyotte is new to SDSU, he is not new to theatre.
“I have a master’s of fine arts degree in directing, and I have probably done about 100 shows,” said Guyotte. “I love rehearsals to the point where when the show opens, the baby is born. There’s not much more I can do.”
Some of the cast members enjoy doing children’s shows just as much as adult shows, but for different reasons.
“It’s not often that you are able to do a play that is aimed specifically for children,” said Schnabel. “I am looking forward to interacting with the kids during the show and seeing their reactions to our antics.”
Children’s shows only come around about once a year for SUT, and the faculty helps pick what plays they want to direct throughout the year.
“We as a faculty choose what shows we want to direct. We have to have seasons that fit well together,” said Guyotte. “They need to challenge us artistically. We teach the students new techniques that they will need in the future.”
Children’s plays definitely require some extra work from actors, the students said.
“I like performing for children. They will believe anything since they have imagination. I like that aspect of it,” said Weiland. “Children’s shows are more demanding because they have to be high energy. Keeping them engaged is going to be a challenge.”
Even though it is a children’s play, the performers encouraged students to come, as the play will still be relatable to college students.
“You can get into a little kid mindset,” Weiland said. “It’s a classic story of good friends and morals.”