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Royal Opera House wins first West End transfer with 'Wind in the Willows'


The Royal Opera House is to follow in the footsteps of the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company with the transfer of a production to London’s West End for the first time.

The Wind in the Willows, which was first performed at the Opera House’s Linbury Studio Theatre a decade ago, is to play an eight-week run at The Duchess Theatre over Christmas.

The adaptation of the much-loved Kenneth Grahame tale of Ratty, Mole and Toad has returned to the Linbury stage three times, selling out each time.

The move was described as a “significant first” by those at Covent Garden, who hope the family show will have the same appeal as other transfers into the West End.

Sally O’Neill, the interim chief executive of the Opera House, said: “It is the future and builds on a strategy we’ve been planning to take our work out of the Opera House and to get more people through the doors.” This strategy included the Royal Ballet performing Romeo and Juliet at the O2 in Docklands.

The National scored lucrative hits with War Horse, which transferred to the New London Theatre, and One Man, Two Guvnors, which moved to Theatre Royal Haymarket. The extra revenue has helped them deal with budgetary pressure and Government funding cuts.

“This is not War Horse,” Ms O’Neill said. “But it follows that model. We have to make the budgets work, and commercial transfers are part of that.”

The RSC also hit big with Matilda the Musical, which moved from Stratford to the Cambridge Theatre in London in 2011. All of those plays have subsequently transferred to Broadway.