Whistle Down the Wind
5th – 12th October 2013
Photographs from the show by Alan Martin – see more by clicking here…
NODA – Patricia Connor, Region 6 Representative
I have wanted to see ‘Whistle Down the Wind’ for quite a long time as it is one of the few musicals written by Andrew Lloyd Webber that I have not seen, and also a number of my friends have advised me that I should make the effort to see it when possible. This meant I was really pleased when ‘Birkdale Orpheus Society’ invited me to come and see their production and I was not sorry I came; I found the show very interesting and different to what I had expected. Over time I have realised that people underestimate how difficult singing Lloyd Webber’s music can be and this show was no exception. It was obvious that the Cast and Production Team had worked very hard to put this show on the stage. Although I would say a majority of the music in this show is not as well-known as other Lloyd Webber musicals, there are a few well-known numbers, such as ‘Whistle Down the Wind’ a song I have always liked, and ‘No Matter What’ recorded for general release by ‘Boyzown’. There were also a number of other catchy tunes that I had not heard before such as the opening number ‘The Vaults of Heaven’.
The cast worked well together supporting each other’s performances and there were some very good characterisations, amongst them were Lucie Clarke as ‘Swallow’ and Alastair Johnson as ‘The Man.’ I particularly enjoyed their scene together in the second act towards the end of the show. I found the scene very touching and they acted well together. Devon Motte as Amos also gave a good performance, he had a very good singing voice which I enjoyed listening to, I hope to hear him again sometime. Chloe Davies as ‘Candy’, Wayne Lowe as ‘Boone’, Steve Coghlan as ‘Edward’, Nathan Colman as ‘Sheriff’ and Connor Cockbain as ‘Earl’ all gave secure supportive performances. There is not a lot of libretto in this musical which is usual for Lloyd Webber shows; the story is mostly told within the songs, so it is very important that diction when singing and speaking is clear and the words can be heard. Unfortunately on occasions this did not happen, which meant I found it a little hard to follow the story sometimes. This problem may have been due to the fact that words were spoken and sung in a Louisiana accent, and some of the cast were able to pull this off better than others.
The children’s chorus were delightful and sang really well, some had solo lines to sing which were clear and were all in tune, they really looked enthusiastic and appeared as if they were enjoying themselves on stage. Both Martha Jenkinson as ‘Brat’ and Thomas Corcoran as ‘Poor Baby’ Swallow’s sister and brother gave us very nice enjoyable performances and fitted in well with the adult cast.
Well done to the stage crew who had to change most of the scenery during the action onstage, they were able to do this unobtrusively and did not spoil any of the action. Also congratulations to the rest of the backstage crew including sound and lighting. The Orchestra conducted by Jeff Rimmer accompanied and supported the cast well and were not too loud. Choreography by Mandy Evans was suitable for this production and fitted in well with the setting and the period. It appeared some thought had gone into the costumes as they were very good and also fitted in very well with the setting and the period. Congratulations to Artistic Director Liz Clarke, Musical Directors Charles Moss and James Loynes for another very entertaining show. Thank you for inviting me I had an enjoyable evening, I am very glad I came. Hope to see you for the next show.