The Return Of The Saviour?

Get Your Wigle On

Whistle Down The Wind

Theatre Severn

Thurs 12th July to Saturday 14th (Saturday Matinee 2.30)

It takes a very brave company and a confident cast to take on what is probably one of the lesser known musicals from the pen of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Whistle Down the Wind.

Get your Wigle on again fulfilled their objectives and left a fair sized theatre audience happy and pleased as was seen at the end with the raptuous applause that they received at the finale.

Telling the story of three children who find Jesus in their barn. Well that's who he says he is, he is on the run from prison and when they discover him, the children believe he is Jesus Christ. Well, all with the exception of Poor Baby, played extremely well by Peter Balmer, who saw through it, although his protestations went largely unnoticed. One read this as an allegory suggesting in the end that god is in us all, and evil can never be allowed to triumph over good. Sweet message for those who believe.

Jim Steinman wrote the lyrics and fans will already understand his theatricality. If you imagine Meat Loaf’s album, Bat out of Hell and Bonnie Tyler’s, Total eclipse of the Heart you will get the idea of how big these show songs are. The Wigle’s proved once again they have the talent and the voices to carry off these triumphs. To see this show done badly would be quite an ordeal. But using the safe pair of hands analogy, thy didn’t falter in their excellence.

The Wigles also give children a chance and treat them with respect and nuture them until the talent that’s in there comes flooding out. With singing one can not start too young as Poppy Moelwyn-Williams and Sophie Bowen proved. They earned their place on the stage and proved the director was right for including them. And of course they stole the hearts of the audience.

Having said that the youngsters all put in an excellent day at the office and no one but no one should not have been there.

James Broxton as the escaped prisoner was excellent. He has a very, very big voice with an alarmingly good range. His low notes and high notes held the strength of a true pro. Overall that was the pattern as all voices were massive and coped beautifully with the gruelling schedule.

But on the subject of big voices one was instantly struck by the power Swallow’s (Katie Edwards) beautiful tones. She had the lion’s share of the singing and handled all of it wonderfully she has great stage presence and if the Wigles lose her to the London Stage soon one wouldn’t be remotely surprised. There is not that many singers one can say that about but Miss Edwards is amongst them.

Eve Smith also made a tremendous job of the third sibling, Brat. There were many demands on her and she played up to them magically.

The local musicians that make the orchestra were a breath of fresh air and it is always nice to see the orchestra pit used. There is nothing like live music. These note perfect guys were bang on the money. It might be good however to look at reducing the drum kit it was slightly too noisy in the opening number and for a moment it became a battle of drums versus singers and of course that is not how it should work.

I am not sure transferring the narrative to America was necessary. Of course in Brian Forbes’ film of 1961, written by Keith Waterhouse and Ted Willis the charm was the Northern accents of the children. It was set in the Lakes or somewhere in the North and one was warmed by the innocence of the children recognisable from the timbre in the warm Northern voices. That charm is lost and the narrative suffers for it.

Whilst the American accents were faultless why Lloyd Webber agreed to sending this quintessentially English film over the pond one may never know. Maybe it was to attract the attention of Steinman, who knows? But one feels Lloyd Webber gave our charming story away to Broadway, where innocent charm is lost by the size of the shows. The story is a simple one after all.

That said, once again Get Your Wigle on Theatre company have delivered a beautiful casted and performed presentation. They really are rapidly becoming the greatest exponents of musical theatre and the fact that they are local is extremely exciting. One is watching them get stronger and stronger. Well done guys!

This is a Four Star review.

Owen J Lewis

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet. Follow hos blogspot at https://owenscribblerlewis.blogspot.com

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