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One of my favourite musicals, with such lovely music, and in most respects this was the best amateur production of Whistle I have seen to date.

Technically there were some hiccups, the set didn’t behave as it should, but I liked the set and the way it moved to accommodate the different scenes, lighting was well-designed in the main.  

I wanted to see some light or something to make the tunnel scene a little more dramatic, it lost some of its meaning as it was mostly played out in near blackout, so we didn’t get the tension of the train threatening Swallow.

The use of lights shining into the audience to herald the fire in the barn was a good ploy, I just wanted the fire to start a little sooner.

Sound was very suspect at times, marring an otherwise well-balanced sound between the band and the cast.

Placing the band under the seating is an excellent idea – as it seems to spread the sound nicely, and does not take the edge off the production by having a band taking up stage space, which is limited anyway.

Maggie Harvey always manages to pull off a well thought out production, and this was no exception.  

I must commend the ensemble youngsters of the cast – they sang beautifully, injected lots of expression, and were just great.  They seemed to integrate well into the cast, and their attention to detail and particularly to The Man was excellent.

The two main youngsters on the night I was there, Nancy Allsop as Brat and Louie Cordara as Poor Baby delivered their lines with assurance and expression, I thought they were delightful.  Nancy was completely charming with a very mobile face, and Louie delivered some humorous lines very well.

Leanne Dormody as their older sister Swallow, gave us a sensitive performance, I loved the relationship between her and The Man – it was intense, but somehow innocent, despite the fact The Man could have played on the depth of feeling from Swallow, the balance was good, and very believable.

Dan Cowtan as The Man blew me away with his portrayal of a murderer – playing on the feelings of Swallow and the children, but at the same time retaining some sense of realism, when he could have taken advantage of a young girl, which I felt was close to the surface, but he redeemed himself!!  Dan has a superb voice, which lent itself well to the various musical numbers, his tone, with the fact that he wasn’t afraid to sing very quietly, relying on his projection and diction to carry the meaning made it quite simply beautiful, but at the same time he got the rough feel of the escaped prisoner, suddenly confronted by these adoring children.  He got the confusion well, but there were times when he was a long way from the audience that I felt I needed more reaction and the need to project more feeling.

Craig Allen was a cheeky Amos, always just on the right side of the law, but with a young man’s impatience to make his way in the world and with girls.  He was well-matched by Danielle Cavender as Candy, who got a lot of emotion and feeling into her characterisation.  I liked the pairing, which I thought worked well, both strong characters who gave as good as they got.

Another young man who is a favourite of mine, having won youth awards in the past, was Alfie Glasser as Earl, he again showed good facial expression, slyness and stealth in his body movement, with a powerful but tuneful voice.

Iain Fowles gave us a strong Boone, the children’s father, and again made his musical numbers full of expression, and very tuneful.  He also created a good family feeling with his children.

Terry Cavender as Ed and Steven J Davies as the Snake Preacher completed the main principal line up with good portrayals, that contrasted well with the other cast members.

The ensemble and other parts were played nicely, and gave a good all round dimension to the production.

Cold was very lively, with super piano from Peter Dodsworth, which seemed to lift the ensemble.  The opening Vaults of Heaven is an uplifting piece, well-performed by the cast.  The ensemble proved to be menacing in Now the Noose is Tightening and the following two musical numbers – which showed a good change in their portrayals, when confronted with the chance of cornering The Man.

However, this piece lives and dies on the strength of The Man and Swallow, and I was deeply moved and impressed by their portrayals and relationship.

So overall a good production with some strong performances that made it an evening to remember.

Berkhamsted Theatre Company


The Court Theatre, Pendley

Director: Maggie Harvey  MD: Peter Dodsworth


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