"The Wind in the Willows" hits the stage with Toad, Rat and Badger in a charming outdoor staging by Theater Schmeater at Seattle's Volunteer Park through Aug. 10.

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Theater Review |

Theater Schmeater’s outdoor summer production “The Wind in the Willows” — adapted from British author Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s novel — is breezy and lighthearted, kind of wordy, short on drama and long on charm.

The show fits into a summer’s afternoon like ducks quacking on a pond.

In fact, that’s how it begins — with a Mole (Tadd Alexander) and a Water Rat (Josh Hartvigson) boating on a river with a trio of ducks. This is the only moment of peace Mole and Rat will have for a while because they are soon to visit Rat’s friend Toad. Toad (the gleefully manic Aaron Allshouse) is big and brash. Toad is a motormouth. Toad is rich, foolish and heavy into conspicuous consumption.

When Toad falls in love with the sight of an automobile, he decides he must have one, and then another and another. (Toad is a very poor driver.)

What’s a good friend to do?

Toad’s comic misadventures in driving finally get him thrown into jail and, while he is incarcerated, his grand home Toad Hall is taken over by a gang of weasels. It takes Rat’s loyalty, Mole’s plucky enthusiasm and a daring master plan from a gruff, no-nonsense Badger (Doug Staley) to win back the day.

Director J.D. Lloyd (who also adapted the story) gets spirited performances out of all four of his principal actors. An added bonus from a surprising fifth performer — a very spiffy, chain-driven motorcar — steals the show every time it makes an entrance.