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Sunday, 31 July 2022

REVIEW: Whistle Down the Wind at the Watermill Theatre

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1996 musical Whistle Down the Wind represents an ambitious production to mount in the intimate space at the Watermill in Newbury but Director Tom Jackson Greaves has assembled an adult and junior cast that rises magnificently to the task. The first half is stupendous as they create believable well-defined characters, move with a beautifully choreographed ease, and deliver a succession of delightfully enjoyable songs. In the second half, the flaws in Lloyd Webber’s plot are accentuated and the actor-musicians seem to dominate the stage, frequently handing guitars to each other, making it feel overcrowded and detracting from the strong central performances. 

The musical is a complex interweaving of many themes as the original book is relocated from Northern England to the American Southern bible bashing states in 1959. Racial hatred and segregation, evangelical religious themes, grief over a parental death and teenage rebellion overwhelm a rural community when a fugitive takes refuge in a barn. There are hints of Lloyd Webber's earlier musicals Jesus Christ Superstar and Phantom of the Opera with its central relationship between the tattooed flawed man and the innocent young girl and the betrayal of his location by the community. The music is a mix of gospel, rock, and country but the best-known song in the show is “No matter what”, which became a 1998 hit for Boyzone.

Monday, 9 December 2019

REVIEW: Whistle Down the Wind at the Union Theatre

The Union Theatre present their Christmas musical, the 1989 musical version of Whistle Down the Wind (not the Andrew Lloyd Webber one) based on the 1959 novel and 1961 film of the same name.

Cathy, Nan and Charles discover a mysterious man in their barn who they are convinced is Jesus Christ whilst the village is going crazy as there is a convict on the loose. The three children end up bringing all their friends to the barn to meet him whilst all keeping it a secret from the grown ups. In the end their father finds out about the man hiding in the barn and alerts the police however the children team up to form a barricade around the barn to stop the man being arrested, the barn gets set on fire and once distinguished the man has disappeared but there has been a cross painted on the wall. 

The story is all based around the children's belief into something they haven't any proof is true, which could be seen as a metaphor for religion as a whole. They give complete trust to this strange man who could have a dark history. 
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