Created for the Theatre by Jonathan and Kimbirdlee Fadner

New Musical for MST&DA: The Wind in the Willows

Kimbirdlee Fadner leads a rehearsal for Wind in the Willows.
Kimbirdlee Fadner leads a rehearsal for Wind in the Willows.
Photo: Irina Island Images

Jonathan and Kimbirdlee Fadner are at it again, bringing another original musical to the Children’s Musical Theater Program at Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance. 

Reporting by Rachel Dowling

Loosely based on the children’s novel The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame, illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard, the show features over 24 original musical numbers. It’s a romping story told by Mole, Rat, Toad, Badger, Otter, Pan, King Weasel and their entourage of colorful characters.   

Local children between the ages of 8 and 13 have a chance to put up an original script and score. They create the characters from scratch

The creative team behind The Monkey King, A Modern Musical, the Fadners continue collaborating, producing original theater for the Roosevelt Island community, the National Asian Artists Project and Queens Theatre. 

Grants Power the Wind in the Willows

Working alongside Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance executive director Kristi Towey, Kimbirdlee Fadner — serving as assistant executive directer -- helped win two grants, one from the New York State Council on the Arts and another from NYC Department Cultural Affairs.  

Both were awarded specifically for the creation of an original musical for the MTT&DA’s Children’s Theatre Program. Last fall, Jonathan Fadner wrote the book for Wind in the Willows and composed the score. 

In Fadner’s reimagining, Wind in the Willows is a modern take on a children’s classic, with a grungy folk rock, Americana-influenced score and a message of acceptance and friendship that honors our natural and fragile planet and all its inhabitants. 

“It’s a quirky and humorous story that rekindles our love for humanity,” says Kimbirdlee.

Catchy, fun, sometimes with a sardonic sense of humor and other times tender, Fadner’s music has a wide range and easy appeal. His are the songs that burrow into your heart and have you singing or humming them for days.  

And the characters have an edge about them, a rebelliousness that shows them poking fun at the status quo, asking questions that make audiences think. 

A Growing Program

The MST&DA Children’s Theatre Program has grown quickly, and as evidence of its success, it’s now so popular that Wind in the Willows splits up in performance to accommodate three separate casts. All are now rehearsing.  

Casts range in size from sixteen to twenty-one kids. On display are diverse. talented students, many of whom stay in the program year after year, developing into confident young actors and faithful, enduring friends.  

MST&DA makes breakthroughs, producing new theatrical works. 

The nonprofit school and performance venue is passionate in its mission of developing new theatrical works, seeded on Roosevelt Island. 

MST&DA’s talented and enthusiastic production staff:  Kimbirdlee (Director/Music Director) and Jonathan Fadner (Associate Director), Jill Clough (Assistant Director), Kara Curtis (Choreographer), Josh Shapiro (Assistant Director/Stage Manager), Andrew Trent (Lighting Designer), Jeanne Castagnaro and Tanya Starace (Costume and Props Designers).

The show will run May 15 - 18, with each cast doing two performances. We’ll be back with details as they become available.

Mark your calendars for MST&DA’s next premiere, performed by students and created by Jonathan and Kimbirdlee Fadner.

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