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Actor Sam Claflin and fellow alumni due to join Wind in the Willows cast at Norwich Theatre Royal

PUBLISHED: 18:50 05 August 2014 | UPDATED: 18:50 05 August 2014

The Theatre Royal arts course students rehearsing for their 2014 show. This year it's a performance of The Wind in The Willows.
 Picture by: Sonya Duncan

The Theatre Royal arts course students rehearsing for their 2014 show. This year it's a performance of The Wind in The Willows. Picture by: Sonya Duncan

When the Wind in the Willows takes to the stage at Norwich Theatre Royal tomorrow night it will be a very special moment for director David Lambert.

Returning alumni

Sam Claflin – films include The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Snow White and the Huntsman.

Joe Claflin – acting credits include Game of Thrones, and Da Vinci’s Demons

Jack Bannon – credits include ITV’s Endeavour, due to appear in new film, Fury starring Brad Pitt.

Tim Bell – Shanty Theatre Company co-founder.

Daniel Burgess –directing career includes work for The Globe.

Martin Hutson – credits include National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company productions.

Nic Jackman – starred in Arnold Wesker play Roots at London’s Donmar Warehouse.

Sarah Langrish Smith – previous productions include 180 at Norwich Playhouse, and Little Pieces of Gold for the Park Theatre.

Daisy Maywood – played Eponine in the 25th anniversary year of Les Miserables, and Meg in the 25th anniversary concert of Phantom of the Opera.

Neil Sheppeck – founder of theatre company Love&Madness.

For it will be his 25th summer show with the theatre’s youth company - and to mark the occasion acting alumni are joining the theatre’s current arts course students on stage to tell the classic tale featuring Mr Toad, Mole, Ratty, and Badger.

The Hunger Games and Pirates of the Caribbean actor Sam Claflin, his brother Joe who has appeared in Game of Thrones and Da Vinci’s Demons, and Daisy Maywood who played Eponine in the 25th anniversary show of Les Misérables, are among those who honed their craft at the theatre and are due to take on cameo roles this week. The show is being performed until Saturday with different alumni joining the 200-strong cast for each performance.

Mr Lambert, who has also written the new stage version of the Kenneth Grahame book, said it was wonderful to welcome back “old friends”.

“It’s just fabulous. They are old friends. I am very touched they are giving up their time to come here and help me celebrate,” he said, adding that one of his highlights over the past 25 years was seeing arts course students carve successful careers in the creative industries.

About the show, he said: “The Wind in the Willows is one of my favourites. It’s one of the most famous children’s books of all time. It’s romantic, nostalgic, but funny as well. It’s got a bit of everything, including some nice tunes you will be whistling as you leave the theatre!”

Joe Darbyshire, 20, from Norwich, is playing Mole and hopes to pursue an acting career.

“Having so many people come back to celebrate this week shows how much the arts courses mean to people,” he said.

“It’s amazing fun playing Mole, very different to the parts I usually play. He’s a wonderful character, so sweet and innocent and seeing the world for the first time.”

Dom Sands, 20, from Thorpe Marriott, said he was having great fun playing Mr Toad and that he also hoped to go to drama school.

“I’d describe the show as an extravaganza because everything is big, over the top, funny, with great music. It’s a great show,” he said.

• The show runs from tomorrow until Saturday. To book call 01603 630000 or visit

• Are you involved in an arts event in Norwich? Email arts correspondent Emma Knights at

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