The Community of Hungerford Theatre Company - Whistle Down the Wind
18th to 21st February 2015.
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Am-drams upstage original musical
Community theatre group directed with flair
The Community of Hungerford Theatre Company: Whistle Down the Wind, at John O'Gaunt School, Hungerford, from Wednesday, February 18, to Saturday, February 21
Whistle Down the Wind was a 1961 film based on Mary Hayley Bell's novel about a young girl in Lancashire who discovers an escaped convict in a barn and mistakes him for Jesus Christ.
Somewhere along the line it was changed into a musical set in the US, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, first produced in Washington to negative reviews and not making it to the scheduled Broadway opening.
Subsequent productions received mixed critical reaction.
This production for CHTC, directed with skill and flair by David Clayton, was however, very, very good.
The choreography was well planned and executed, with dozens of children singing and acting carefully worked-out movements.
Parry Bates, as The Man, and Kate Izzard, as Swallow, sang and acted their hearts out. The rest of the cast were very good too, with strong performances by Paul Hyde, Matt Worth, Charlotte Penny, Bella Martin and Rouska Westall.
The setting and variations of it were functional and clever. There were occasional gremlins on the set, with microphone malfunctions and lack of a spotlight on a singer even though another part of the stage had one.
Overall though, a fine ensemble performance by everybody, in spite of Lloyd Webber's score, which proved that even he can have off days. It seemed unfortunate that the company didn't have better material to work with.