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WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND – Union Theatre, London.

Whistle Down the WindThe Union Theatre is the home of unearthing forgotten musical gems, having recently enjoyed a hugely successful Howard Goodall season last year, celebrating one of our most underrated composers, now comes the London Premiere of Richard Taylor and Russell Labey’s musical adaptation of Whistle Down The Wind.

Written in 1989 and a staple for youth groups around the country, the show was possibly overshadowed by the overblown Andrew Lloyd Webber interpretation which has appeared in the West End for numerous runs. It’s a shame as Mary Hayley Bells original story of a group of Lancashire children who supposedly find ‘Jesus Christ’ in their stable, is far more delicately handled here than in Lloyd Webber’s re-location of the tale to America’s Deep South.

The score by Richard Taylor is more operatic than your standard musical, which seems fitting given the religious shadow that blankets the show, and whilst no major discernible tunes are present, the score is beautifully sung and expertly handled by a stirring and talented cast. The pixie like vulnerability of Kathy is beautifully portrayed by recent graduate Grace Osborn, who ultimately breaks your heart as she begs the man played by the strong Callum McCardle, to stay. Osborn has soaring vocals and such a loving presence and this piece showcases her talent perfectly. The cast is uniformly excellent, with Danielle Morris as the highly strung Miss Lodge and Ana Richardson providing some comic relief to the proceedings. Joshua Lewindon also impresses with youthful vigour as the town bully.

The intimate confines of the Union, with it’s exposed brick walls and rustic charm, are perfect for this tale set in 1950s Lancashire and adds to the charm of this challenging but uplifting musical.

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Reviewed 30/01/2015

By Rory Maxwell

27th January – 21st February 2015
Union Theatre, London SE1 0LX

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