Review: The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows: Saving Mr. Toad; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; $10-$18. Sacramento City Performing Arts Center, 3835 Freeport Boulevard; (916) 558-2174; Through December 10.
Rated 4.0

When river creatures get together, mild mayhem and peaceful pastoral parties are sure to break out. At least that’s what happens in The Wind in the Willows, the classic children’s tales of the unlikely friendships between a mole, a toad, a rat, an otter, a badger and other small animals living along the banks of an English countryside river.

In City Theatre’s current production of The Wind in the Willows: Saving Mr. Toad, director Luther Hanson adapts the story of the madcap hijinks of Mr. Toad who dares to embrace the newfangled technology of motor cars. Hanson adds colorful early-1900-era costumes, creative mobile sets that include an impressive vintage automobile and train, original music, a live musical trio and fun performances from an enthusiastic cast.

The tale starts off at a slow pace, as the narrator (Tony Brisson) spins the story of Mole (a wonderfully animated Meghan Cazadio), his friends and their mild adventures. But, thankfully, it picks up as the show goes along, and soon we’re on Mr. Toad’s wild ride that include a bit of auto racing and auto theft. Jonathan Plon perfectly captures Mr. Toad’s preening, boasting, crazy antics, which allows the children in the audience to see the errors of Toad’s ways while also cheering on the misbehavin’ amphibian.

Patti Roberts