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Feeling daddy cool as Toad; Matthew Douglas is looking for the perfect delivery - on and off stage. Roz Laws reports.

While Matthew Douglas is throwing himself wholeheartedly into his latest role, he knows that an even more important production is taking shape. The star of the Birmingham Rep's Christmas show is about to become a father for the first time, as his actress wife Devon Black is due to give birth in April.

"I have to admit that that's the most pressing thing on my mind," admits Matt, 35, though it doesn't stop him from enjoying appearing in The Wind in the Willows.

The Rep production is currently running at the Crescent Theatre until January 19.

Matt takes the lead role of Toad, of Toad Hall fame, which means he gets to have all the fun - driving a car and a boat on stage, dressing as a woman and generally being mischievous.

"I think all children, and adults too, would like to be like him," smiles Matt. "He's so naughty and fun. Though we couldn't all be like that, it would be chaos.

"It's true that he can be rude and pompous, but he's delightful to play. There's always something happening when he's on stage.

"There's singing and dancing, a lot of physical comedy, and I even get involved in a sword fight!

"The set looks amazing. Toad gets to drive a car, which really does move - it's cleverly adapted from a mobility scooter.

I will have the traditional Toad costume of goggles and a hat.

"It's a very high quality production with a talented cast. They can be playing animals one minute and then pick up a violin or a piccolo.

All the music is live on stage which adds to the atmosphere."

Matt describes Birmingham as his second home, having first lived here for three years from 1995 as a drama student at Birmingham University. He studied alongside Matthew Goode, who went on to star in Watchmen, Brideshead Revisited and Birdsong, and Elliot Cowan of Marchlands and Sinbad TV fame.

Matt himself has stuck mainly to the stage, appearing in Birmingham in Hamlet, She Stoops To Conquer and The Importance of Being Ernest, although there have been minor TV roles too.

"I was in an episode of EastEnders, and I played Kevin Mc-Nally's son in an episode of Midsomer Murders.

"I played a man having an affair and a panic attack in Doctors.

Douglas as Toad. "That was great, filming in Selly Oak.

"I loved my time as a student in Birmingham and made a lot of friends. Brummies are fabulous.

""I live in London but I think of the city as my home from home.

"It's going to be fun being here for Christmas, and then I have the birth of my baby to look forward to.

"I can't be too choosy with work and if the right job comes along it would be hard to turn down, but my wife wouldn't be too happy if I was along way away on tour when she was in labour!"The Wind In The Willows plays at Birmingham's Crescent Theatre until January 19. For tickets, ring 0121 236 4455 or go to Review: page 24

He's so naughty and fun. Though we couldn't all be like that, it would be chaos


Matthew Douglas as Toad.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Article Type:Theater review
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 6, 2012
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