Theatre: Whistle Down the Wind

Monday night I saw Whistle Down the Wind. It was my first Andrew Lloyd-Webber show I have seen since I saw an amateur version of Jesus Christ Superstar in the 1990s. It is based on a movie that was set in rural England where a group of children find an escaped convict and who are convinced he is Jesus Christ so I figured there was a theme running here. Ok it isn't art, but its something the home counties love (judging by the audience demographic around me).

For anyone who has seen the Hayley Mills film you probably have a better chance of understanding the plot, although you may be left wondering why they moved the story to 1950s America. There is one thing that the British do pretty lousy and that is American accents so I thought that was a pity. Had they left the story in Britain one could have imagined a pantomime-type reaction from the audience when the cops are looking for the escaped convict along the lines of "He's in the barn!" Alas the show takes itself all too seriously to have any sense of fun, and it was hard to have much sympathy for any of the characters (always a danger for a musical).

Still there are some nice numbers involving hoards of children singing, or was that a backing track? I guess if it sounds too good to be true (i.e. children in time to complex music and in key) it surely has to be. It is also hard to tell what music was real with five keyboards / "orchestra makers" in the pit, but hey that's the trend in the West End nowadays… The title song is in danger of entering the standard repertoire for Christmas time and other cheesy occasions but I guess we all need some cheese every now and then.

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