by Paula Citron.
The Andrew Lloyd Webber/Jim Steinman 1996 musical “Whistle Down the Wind” made a brief foray into town last week, and it was a mixed blessing.
The classic 1961 British film, about children who find an escaped killer in their barn and think that he is Jesus, took place in the Midlands. The musical version has been relocated to 1959 Louisiana, and this disastrous decision embroils the innocence of the film in black/white race relations.
Once one was over the stupidity of the continent change, there was much about “Whistle Down The Wind” to admire, particularly Webber’s fetching score that includes gospel, rockabilly and R&B. Director Bill Kenwright’s simple presentation matched the up-front directness of the songs themselves.
The charismatic Eric Kunze as The Man was sensational, and young Justine Magnusson radiated innocence as Swallow. The ensemble was uniformly strong and thankfully, looked like real people.
Now if they could just get the show out of Louisiana!
From the Princess of Wales Theatre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.