A Kiss Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

I’ve been listening to the London Cast Recording of “Whistle Down the Wind.”

I saw the show here in DC, and thought it was outstanding. I know my reaction was in the minority; it was critically panned and Webber decided to not take it to Broadway as had been planned, instead re-tooling it and standing it up in London.

I think the London version – at least, what I can glean of it from the cast recording - is flawed in ways that the DC production was not. It seems to me he’s watered in down, and inserted several “anvil” moments – that is, moments where the characters tell you how they’re feeling, even though it should be obvious.

The worst of those anvils comes during what I think is the show-stopping tune, “A Kiss is a Terrible Thing To Waste.” It’s sung mainly by Amos, the James-Dean-Rebel-Without-A-Cause type, to young Swallow, as he tries to get her to loosen up and run away with him. This new version has Swallow singing little counterpoints back at him, little phrases like, “I wish I could let go…”

Those weren’t in the original DC production, and for good reason: anyone with the brains God gave a eggplant doesn’t need to be TOLD Swallow is conflicted about the offer and the situation. Why in heaven’s name do you make a show better by turning subtext into actual text?

Or am I crazy?

Or, more likely, am I the only person with an inordinate interest in “Whistle Down the Wind?”

  • Rick

HUGE ALW fanatic here, Rick. I’ve often said there’s nothing so obscure that someone on the SDMB hasn’t heard it.

I wish this show had hit Broadway. I’ve never seen it, but having a CDR of the DC cast, I have to agree with you. The show was more subtle and much better and should have been brought to Broadway.

And Angelika Milster’s new CD “Milster” actually has a German version of the title song.

I’ve only written two fan letters in my life (well, three if you count the one to Isaac Asimov, but it was more a technical point nitpick letter). After I saw Whistle, I wrote to Davis Gaines and Irene Molloy, telling them I thought they had both done superb jobs.

Never heard back from Molloy, but Mr. Gaines sent me a nice autographed pic and a note of thanks.

Ms. Molloy seems to have moved from Broadway to Hollywood.

Whoever the new girl is on the London track irritates me no end. She has a thick, cloying Southern accent that tries way too hard to be authentic. And she’s annoyingly literal with Amos… “I want you to take me somewhere on your motorcycle!”

“Hell, I’ll take you to the moon, baby!”

“No, it’s someplace closer than that. The train tracks.”

Trust me when I say that the line doesn’t work. It’s not a comedic moment they’re having, or trying for.


Hey, Annie - I just e-mailed you.

  • Rick

I just the London version a few years ago and thought it was great (think it was the original). Then again, I never understood why ALW was so hated anyway.

I never received the e-mail. One I sent to you was returned with “mailbox unknown.” Please re-email.