Toad Comes Home

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After an exhausting few days for the Cast and Crew, Toad of Toad hall comes to a close. The scenery and props are back in the store and costumes are being cleaned before joining them. A huge thanks to everyone who helped put this together, whether it was helping out with Front of House, painting a couple of flats on a Saturday morning, or getting up early and staying out late to help lifting, shifting etc.

Thank you.

There are some wonderful shots out there on the interweb of the set and players and some links are below.

First of all there’s some photos taken by a Friend of Badger’s, Mr John Boyle, capturing some quite unique moments of the play. – click Link –

A Different Kind of Rabbit…
“I knew his Grandfather…”


Secondly, there’s Marion Cox’s review published on their website. On the whole a good review, but she felt that the play was let down by the length and didn’t like Toad. It is worth noting that the version that was printed in the paper had some of the better points edited out and they applied an unsuitably negative headline. An edit that Mrs Cox herself was not happy with. This may well have put the opportunist Punter from coming out on the Saturday night.

And last, and showing that different reviewers can see different perspectives, there’s Anita Harris’s review featured in her Durnovaria diaries. See below.

Toad of Toad Hall

Wow!! Once again Dorchester Drama Club surpass themselves with their latest production, Toad of Toad Hall, the stage adaptation of one of my childhood favourites, Wind in the Willows. This had everything – music, song, dance, comedy and great acting. The props were simple but incredibly effective, clever use of smoke and lighting created wonderfully atmospheric settings, and the enthusiasm of the children taking part blended beautifully with the more experienced adults. And we were so smoothly transported from riverbank to court house, dungeon and finally the banqueting room at Toad Hall, the homes of Badger and Ratty adding to the mix to bring the story to life in a way even the youngest audience member could understand and appreciate. The Corn Exchange, for just a few hours, became the countryside as the tale of Toad, Badger, Mole and Ratty unfolded and drew you in.

Oh yes, I loved Toad of Toad Hall. As ever, the stage presence of Lee Stroud (Toad) was as amazing as ever, a Toad as good a one as you will find anywhere. Michael Staddon was an imposing Badger, Ann Ottaway delightful as the somewhat timid Mole, and Ian Farley made the role of Ratty his own. They bounced off one another perfectly, the humour at times subtle but never lost on those watching. I loved Fran Sansom as the Chief Weasel, so sinister, so menacing, as was the brilliantly lit scene in the Wild Wood. Loved the Down with Toad song, performed so well by young and not so young amidst a plethora of red light and swirling smoke. What an incredible touch. So many great performances. So good to see the hilarious Sue Worth and Lee Stroud pairing up to bring one of the most comical interludes of the whole show. Timing was great ……. And they are so funny when in full flow.

There wasn’t one moment in Toad of Toad Hall that I didn’t enjoy. The whole performance had me transfixed, from the delightful ducklings, ably led by Mother Duck (Dee Thorne), to the chaos of the courtroom and the banishing of the weasels from Toad Hall. Everyone who had a hand in this production, from the actors and producers to the stage crew, choreographers and costumiers deserves a round of applause and heartfelt thanks for creating such an enjoyable evening. I love being transported back to my childhood, a double delight when taken there by the talented Dorchester Drama Club. Thank you …….. and I am waiting with bated breath for your next offering. Make it soon, but please recover from this one first. Poop, poop, as Mr Toad would say!!




Copyright © 2015 Durnovaria Diaries, All rights reserved.



Toad News

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Rehearsals are needing bigger spaces as we’re running the full play, so we’ve got the chance to mock up the set dimensions. This gives the Actors a feel for the space they will be performing in. It also gives the Techies a chance to try to spot problems before the Tech rehearsal.

Last night we spent some time putting together the fight scene. Here’s a little taster.

The Children (& Dee) have been practising some dance routines as well. The children have a variety of different roles,  here, they’re ducks dabbling.

Publicity is out there, please spread the word around as much as possible and come to see the play. Watch out for some of the cast members handing out leaflets in town on Saturdays in costume as well. All help welcome.

Toad News

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19th November, our opening night, is now less than a month away. Rehearsals are at full momentum and often interspersed with costume fittings.

There’s too many cast to list here fully, but the main characters are going to be played by:

  • Toad – Lee Stroud
  • Mole – Ann Ottaway
  • Ratty – Ian Farley
  • Badger – Mike Staddon
  • Chief Weasel – Fran Sansom

There is also a whole host of weasels, field mice and other creatures that I’ll give credit too when I can.

The Directors are Dee Thorne & Lee Stroud.

We are still desperate for help behind the scenes and Front of House. We’re also hoping to get donations for raffle prizes as well. Anything you can help with please give us a call.

Tickets – Hold Fire, tickets are being printed and should be available next week, after half term. There will be a booking number to call for tickets, 01305 268692. You will also be able to buy tickets from Trinity Stores in Trinity St.

We’re doing 4 performances, 19th November 7:00pm, 20th November 7:00pm, 21st November 2:00pm & 7:00pm.

All performances will be at the Corn Exchange, Dorchester.

Prices will be £9 in advance or £10 on the door. All children’s tickets will be £6.



Toad News

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Rehearsals are underway for Toad of Toad Hall, scheduled for November. Costume design is also well underway and we’ve got to set up a meeting for set design and lighting.

If you’re interested in helping out backstage, drop us  line. We can always use a few more weasels and stoats to plot against Toad.

Below are a selection of photos from the initial rehearsals, including Weasels and Stoats.

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AGM Update

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Apologies for the delayed update, Summer is always bedlam around here.

Wednesday 29th July, Dorchester Drama held it’s AGM at the Colliton Club, Dorchester.  Thank you to all who attended; it was good to see you both for the meeting and the catch up in the bar afterwards.

 For your information I have listed the new committee below;

  • Frances Sansom – Chairman
  • Colin Elphick – Treasurer
  • Ann Ottaway
  • Maggie Ansell
  • Felicity Morgan
  • Jonny White
  • Alastair Simpson
  • Dee Thorne
  • Lee Stroud
  • Naomi Phillips
  • Rob Sansom

 A huge thank you to Harriet Still and Tom Horsington who have both stepped down from the committee.  Thanks to Harriet for her carrying out of the secretary role over the last year too.  Another big thank you to Alastair.  Whilst he remains a committee member, he has stepped down from his role as treasurer.

 We welcome Lee, Naomi, Colin and Rob to the committee.  Colin has stepped into the role of Treasurer.  Thank you Colin (big sigh of relief from the rest of the committee!) . Lee and Naomi have both offered to take on secretarial duties – so we will be divvying those up a.s.a.p.

 We will be having a few weeks break from activities but will be back on August 26th and September 2nd for the casting of Toad of Toad Hall – the A.A. Milne version to be directed by Dee Thorne and Lee Stroud.

And lastly, huge Thanks to David who’s sent us footage of ‘Jeeves in Bloom’, performed by Dorchester Drama in 2013.

I’ll link the other scenes into the Past Productions page.

 Hope you’re all having a lovely summer.


Summer Social

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After last weeks workshop on ‘how to not act’ ( a lot harder than it sounds….), tonight we had our summer social evening.

An evening with a light buffet (mainly cakes, though thanks to Jonny for providing us with some salad so there was the odd vitamin) and home spun entertainment.

Alastair gave us a couple of his excellent monologues, complete with sound effects…WP_20150722_011

Billie gave us an alternative version of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’….WP_20150722_012

Colin and Jonny gave us ‘Fork Handles’…..WP_20150722_013

Anne opened a Fete for us, dripping with sarcastic wit….WP_20150722_014

Peter reviewed a very mediocre play brilliantly, delivering compliments which possibly showed that he’s had to do the same thing for real?WP_20150722_019

Maggie gave us the Family renowned version of the ‘Chubbly’ joke….WP_20150722_015WP_20150722_016

Andy gave us a version of some Hardy stripped to 30 seconds…WP_20150722_017

And Dee finished off with a demonstration on how to bake a cake, in true  Keith Floyd fashion, with liberal amounts of Chardonnay.WP_20150722_026 WP_20150722_025


A little improvised dance by Olivia in the middle and some more cake…..


Next week is the AGM at the Colliton Club. 7:30pm.

The committee will be looking for some more members to help support them over the next year. Please come along if you can. If you can spare some time to be on the committee, even better. We are looking for another secretary and treasurer, plus other members.

Remember, the group cannot run without your support.








Summer Timetable update….

DD Logo         List of Summer events.

We’ve finalised some dates for the summer timetable, so diaries out……

  • 24th June. Improvisation and theatre games. Sunninghill Hall. 7:30pm
    Remember ‘Who’s Line is it Anyway’?, well this probably won’t be like that at all…..
  • 1st July. Stage fighting Workshop.  Sunninghill Hall. 7:30pm
    Who hasn’t wanted to wield a foil in a satisfying (and convincing)fashion?, despatching pirates and foes left right and centre. Thanks to Pete Stockman for offering to run this one for us.
  • 8th July. Play Reading – Toad of Toad Hall. Sunninghill Hall. 7:30pm
    A few of us have had a chance to read through a couple of versions, but now it’s been decided which one we’re doing in November, come and get your first glimpse at what the directors have planned. Casting will follow in later months but this will give you an idea of which part you’d like to try for.
  • 15th July. Acting workshop. Sunninghill Hall. 7:30pm
    Sue Wylie has very kindly offered to run this one for us. Having worked with Sue on several things, including the last Community Play,  I know this will be good and we’ll learn something.
  • 22nd July. Social and Performance eveningSunninghill Hall. 7:30pm
    Polish up your party piece or put together a new sketch. Let us know if you require a supporting partner or even a director.
    The last one of these we did saw a full array of acts and went down very well.
    More details to follow.
  • 29th July. AGM. Venue tbc.
    Our Annual General Meeting. A chance for you to volunteer to sit on next years committee and have a say in what we do. Or at least just to come along and see the working behind the group.

And Finally…..

Auditions & reading for ‘Toad’ will be on the 26th August and 2nd September.
Rehearsals will be every Monday and Wednesday evening from 7th Sept onwards.

We will be shortly after asking for backstage crew as well, so if you’re keen on working behind the scenes, stage managing, props etc. let us know asap.