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Julian Fellowes' Wind in the Willows to open in October 2016

The Downton Abbey writer's new musical adaptation of the classic novel will open in Plymouth

Trusty trio: Anthony Drewe, George Stiles and Julian Fellowes
(© Jamie Hendry)

The world premiere of Julian Fellowes' new musical production of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows will open in Plymouth in October 2016.

The Wind in the Willows has a book by the Oscar-winner and Downton Abbey screenwriter Fellowes with music and lyrics from Olivier Award-winning duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.

This will be the first time the trio have worked together since their hit version of Mary Poppins in 2004. Rachel Kavanaugh, who directed the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre's productions of The Sound of Music in 2013 and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers this year, directs the show.

Grahame's book follows the adventures of Mr Toad and his friends by the riverbank Ratty, Badger and Mole. The book was written in 1908 and has previously been adapted into both plays and films.

Fellowes said: "The Wind in the Willows has been a favourite of mine literally all my life. It has been a real privilege to be part of the team re-imagining it for the musical stage... I shall be on the edge of my seat when we open at Plymouth, a marvellous theatre and the perfect launch pad for us to begin."

The show will be the first ever West End musical to crowd-source funding. A million pounds was raised after producers opened funding up to the public last year.

The Wind in the Willows opens 8 October 2016 at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth, and heads to The Lowry, Salford on October 26, ahead of its West End run.

Casting details and West End run dates are still to be announced.