Ben’s been a crowd-pleasing otter this Christmas on the Chichester stage

Ten-year-old Ben Webb has been an otter this Christmas. An otter who is also a bit of a crowd-pleaser.
Benjamin Webb by Tim Hills PhotographyBenjamin Webb by Tim Hills Photography
Benjamin Webb by Tim Hills Photography

“I am an otter who doesn't really like water. I have to come out of the water and do a huge shake! I think people will like it! It is not a huge part which I'm quite happy about. It's my first show and I've got a few lines as well.”

The show is The Wind In The Willows which Chichester Festival Youth Theatre will be bringing to Chichester Festival Theatre’s main house this Christmas, with performances from December 17-31.

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In the tale, the inquisitive Mole abandons spring-cleaning his burrow and, to his delight, discovers the river. There he meets Ratty, a water vole with a passion for boats. Soon the two are firm friends and settle down to life in Ratty’s riverbank home, surrounded by the neighbouring otters, rabbits, field mice and hedgehogs.

Over at Toad Hall, the ebullient Toad persuades them to join an excursion in a horse-pulled caravan – only for disaster to strike when they are overturned into a ditch. But the accident ignites Toad’s passion for motorcars…

And Mole can’t resist the temptation of another adventure, braving the snowy and threatening Wild Wood to find the elusive Badger, who welcomes Mole and Rat into his own cosy home.

But can the three friends save Toad from the consequences of his terrible driving and defeat their enemies, the hungry and wily weasels and ferrets?

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Ben is thrilled to be part of it all: “I only started sessions (with the youth theatre) in September. It's quite a thrill to know that I got into the show before I had even started my sessions. I had to wait for a while to get into the youth theatre and I had an audition that I was quite nervous about. I had to do some dancing and singing.

“I've wanted to be in the youth theatre ever since my brother started. I just wanted to do it. He did his first show in year nine, and he just said that they are really really fun sessions, that everybody is so welcoming and so friendly and that everything is so much fun.”

And that has absolutely been Ben's experience too: “Everybody is there because they want to do theatre. They don't mess around and I just really enjoy it.”

And he’s absolutely fine with the fact that he's going to be working hard along with the rest of the cast while the rest of us, we hope, put our feet up over Christmas. But no it certainly won't ruin his Christmas: “But it might ruin my mum and dad's Christmas having to take me to and from the theatre!”

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Ben understandably doesn't know what he wants to do when he grows up but he also enjoy the arts at his primary school: “We have just done a dance and art exhibition at school and I had to do some dancing. We were learning about World War Two and we did some World War-Two inspired dance.”

The version of The Wind In The Willows that the youth theatre are doing is the Alan Bennett adaptation, with music and additional lyrics by Jeremy Sams. Tickets on