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?”