Whistle Down the Wind
Posted: 07 Jun 2010
WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND,
Newcastle Theatre Royal
There’s a line in a song in Whistle Down The Wind about children ruling the world. Well, if all the world’s a stage, they certainly rule this one.
For the young 20-strong ensemble – mostly recruited from Tyneside and Wearside drama schools – give show star Jonathan Ansell great backing in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ambitious musical about mistaken identity in Bible-belt Louisiana.
When former G4 star Ansell, hiding out on the run from prison in a family’s barn, is discovered by the children, and when asked who he is exclaims “Jesus Christ!”, he is mistaken for the returning Messiah. And nothing, even a full-scale police manhunt, will change their impressionable minds.
It’s a contrived story with several contrived sub-plots, and while Ansell, on his musical stage debut, performs and sings well enough, he lacks the power of, say, a Michael Ball in Les Miserables or a Michael Crawford in Phantom of the Opera.
The forced American accents grate a little, too, though the female lead – Carly Bawden as Swallow, the eldest daughter who protects `Jesus’ – has the sweetest of voices and arguably outperforms all others.
Ultimately, if the story, and its sad ending, fail to convince, the greater merit of this show rests with The Young Ones.
Until Saturday June 12th.