The musical Whistle Down The Wind is different to the original story written by Mary Hayley Bell (her daughter Hayley Mills having starred opposite Alan Bates in the film version) with the action relocated to the Louisiana bible belt of the 1950s. Furthermore Bill Kenwright has made significant changes to the original Andrew Lloyd Webber production for the touring version.
The first tour was in 2001 and this production is again directed by Kenwright and stars Jonathan Ansell as "the Man" who is quite a revelation in the role, as he leaves his days a part of the group G4, well and truly behind him.
The story revolves around a dangerous escaped convict (Ansell) who is discovered by a young girl called Swallow (Carly Bawden) hiding in her fathers’ barn. She firmly believes the convict is Jesus and allows the other local children to visit him, who all firmly believe Jesus has returned. Meanwhile in the town the hunt goes on for the convict.
There are several sub plots to keep the action moving along at a steady pace but the relationship between the girl and the man is central to everything.
With the musical numbers ranging from the rock song Tire Tracks (lyricist Jim Steinman) to the number one smash hit "No Matter What", all tastes are catered for. The designs by Paul Farnsworth are very effective, especially during the fire scene and the final duet between Swallow and The Man.
Having seen the original West End version several times, as well as the original tour, this production once again brings the story to life and deserves to play to packed houses across the Country. But it has to be said Ansell is certainly the star and shows he is a worthy leading man in musical theatre.