Just weeks after the closure of The Woman in White, the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber was once again heard at the Palace Theatre as his 1998 musical Whistle Down the Wind returned to the West End for a limited season.

Co-written with Jim Steinman, Whistle Down the Wind was first seen in a 1997 try-out in Washington DC ahead of its West End premiere in July 1998 at the Aldwych Theatre, where it ran for two-and-a-half years, finally closing on 6 January 2001. In August of that year, director and producer Bill Kenwright launched the show’s first UK touring production, which has had regular stints on the road ever since (See News, 21 Aug 2001).

Whistle Down the Wind is inspired by Mary Hayley Bell's novel and Bryan Forbes' classic 1961 film of the same name, in which three farm children discover a man hiding in a barn and think that he is Jesus. The musical moves the action from rural England to the American Deep South in the 1950s.

During its previous West End run, Whistle Down the Wind featured more than 120 youngsters and provided a number one chart hit for boy band Boyzone who recorded the song “No Matter What”.

The Kenwright production stars Claire Marlowe as Swallow and Tim Rogers as The Man as well as, on opening night, Emma Hopkins and Laurence Belcher as Brat and Poor Baby. It’s designed by Paul Farnsworth, with choreography by Henry Metcalfe, design by Paul Farnsworth, musical direction by David Steadman, sound by Mick Potter and lighting by Nick Richings.

Whatsonstage.com was on hand at last night’s opening, getting the pick of the pics for our 1st Night Photos and interviewing theatregoers and the cast and attending the post-show party at the Langham Hilton – where guests included Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black, Peter Sissons, Tony Blackburn, David Dein, Carole Caplin and Jenny Seagrove – for Whatsonstage.com TV.

- by Terri Paddock


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