Photo gallery: Sam Claflin joins fellow alumni to celebrate Norwich director’s 25th show

Former students from the Theatre Arts Course return to the Theatre Royal for cameo appearances in The Wind in the Willows. From left, film star Sam Claflin (Rat); his brother Joe Claflin (Mole); Daniel Burgess (Toad); Lisa Ellis (Mrs Otter) and Theatre Arts Course director, David Lambert. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Former students from the Theatre Arts Course return to the Theatre Royal for cameo appearances in The Wind in the Willows. From left, film star Sam Claflin (Rat); his brother Joe Claflin (Mole); Daniel Burgess (Toad); Lisa Ellis (Mrs Otter) and Theatre Arts Course director, David Lambert. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Thursday, August 7, 2014
9:55 AM

Nowadays he’s more used to working on Hollywood film sets with some of cinema’s biggest names, but this week film star Sam Claflin is returning to his roots and taking to the stage at Norwich Theatre Royal.

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Fellow alumni on stage

• Joe Claflin (older Mole) – acting credits include Game of Thrones, EastEnders, Holby City, and Da Vinci’s Demons.

• Daniel Burgess (older Toad) – directing credits include The Dispossessed (Etcetera Theatre), Beating Heart Cadaver (Finborough Theatre), Days of Significance (Norwich Theatre Royal Youth Company) and The Pillowman (Norwich Theatre Royal Actors Company), associate director for Orpheus and Eurydice for the National Youth Theatre, and assistant director for various productions for The Globe.

• Lisa Ellis (Mrs Otter) – acting credits include the Arnold Wesker play, Roots, at London’s Donmar Warehouse, EastEnders, and The Canterbury Tales with the RSC. She is also an assistant director for The Wind in the Willows.

The former Costessey High School pupil is one of a number of the theatre’s arts course alumni who have returned to mark director David Lambert’s 25th show milestone by appearing alongside current students in the show The Wind in the Willows.

Sam – known for films such as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – actually played Ratty in the youth theatre company’s 2005 production of the riverside tale, and last night he played the older version of the character.

“It’s very nostalgic treading these boards again, without the arts course I wouldn’t be even half way to where I am now. It embraced me as a thespian and made me who I am I guess... I’m very thankful and happy to be back to celebrate,” said Sam.

About the 2005 Wind in the Willows show, he added: “It feels so long ago but at the same time it feels like only yesterday.

“It’s all been such an incredible journey from here to where I am, so it’s nice to be back... I know that I had the most fun on this stage.”

He said it was great to be a part of the on-stage reunion and to celebrate Mr Lambert’s landmark anniversary, and that it was

brilliant to perform alongside his brother Joe, also a professional actor, who last night played the character of older Mole.

“It’s the first time Joe and I have acted together since we did the Sinbad the Sailor here which was 2006,” said Sam, who in 2003 also played the title role in the youth theatre company’s production of Robinson Crusoe.

Former students from the Theatre Arts Course return to the Theatre Royal for cameo appearances in The Wind in the Willows. From left, film star Sam Claflin (Rat); and his brother Joe Claflin (Mole). Picture: DENISE BRADLEYFormer students from the Theatre Arts Course return to the Theatre Royal for cameo appearances in The Wind in the Willows. From left, film star Sam Claflin (Rat); and his brother Joe Claflin (Mole). Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Fellow alumni who joined Sam and Joe on stage last night were Daniel Burgess, who played older Toad, and Lisa Ellis, who played Mrs Otter.

The show runs until Saturday and different alumni are

performing alongside the youth theatre company cast each night – Sam is due to be appearing in the show once more this week.

Mr Lambert said it was a “humongous compliment” that so many alumni were returning for his 25th show.

2005 Wind in the Willows production

EDP and Evening News’ head of news, Ian Clarke, reviewed the youth theatre company’s 2005 production of The Wind in the Willows. Here’s an excerpt from his review:

“From the moment the curtain went up...the huge cast oozed enthusiasm, energy and talent.

“Toad (Daniel Burgess), Ratty (Sam Claflin) and Badger (Gareth Parry) were true quality and the lovable group of duck washerwomen worked terrifically well together...With so much depth throughout the cast, the future of live theatre in Norfolk looks very rosy.”

“It’s so fabulous to see them. These are people who were my students and are now some of my closest friends. It is a family

reunion, it really is,” he said.

More than 200 young people from the theatre’s current youth company are appearing in the show based on the classic Kenneth Grahame book.

They include Joe Darbyshire (playing Mole), Sam Ings (Rat), Tom Quadling (Badger), Sam Todd (Otter), Dom Sands (Toad), Gabriella Guymer-Davies (Mrs Edge), and Charlie Knowlton-Rayner (Chief Weasel).

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 DuncanThe 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 Wind in the Willows is at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday.

To book tickets call 01603 630000 or visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

Are you involved in an arts event in Norwich? Email arts correspondent Emma Knights at emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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