It’s the days leading up to Christmas and a group of children searching for answers to their life problems believe they have found it when a mysterious man blows into town.
That’s the basic premise behind the Soundstage production of Whistle Down the Wind one of the many layers behind it. Based on a novel and movie, the stage production features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Jim Steinman, known for his work with Meat Loaf and Bonnie Tyler. The play has revisions from the originals setting the scene in Louisiana instead of England.
Soundstage director Lynne Leydier had planned to take a year off from the stage but when she found out the rights to Whistle Down The Wind were available for the first time ever she jumped at the chance to get it.
“It is a very interesting story and unique. This is based on a true story and it is different angle for a Christmas play,”said Leydier. “It is testing a lot of things in life. We have this criminal element who is caught between the prejudice of adults and the innocence of the young. The fact it is about three children who are harbouring this escaped convict that they are convinced is Jesus, it asks us all to question what is love.”
With big ballads and main characters that involve youth, Leydier faced some challenges in casting. The Man is played by Pat Brown along with other familiar faces joining in other roles such as Jake Kimberley as the Sherriff, Jason Demetrick as Amos. For the youth roles Leydier looked to Saige Carlson to take the lead as Swallow, who is a naive but pure soul that is coming of age.
“I thought that was a very difficult person to find, but Saige was just right for the role. It was key knowing I had her and Pat that could pull off those two key roles because the plot line is different and it had to work,” said Leydier. “Saige has a true soul, spirit and heart yet she is intelligent and questioning. She has a lot of strength of character.”
Also taking on a role is Beamer Wigley, who is no stranger to the spotlight having taken top spot in the Kid’s division at the PNE Star Showdown last summer. He played a small role in Evita! and won the role of Poor Baby for Whistle Down the Wind.
“I thought it would be fun because he is kind of around my age and he is a main character. I’m really excited just to be part of this,” said Wigley
The young performer gets a solo in the song I Never Get What I Pray For and will be featured in a number of other songs.
“My favourite song is The Vow. I think it is a really pretty song, it is really short but it is quite beautiful — the music, the words, everything,” he said.
Whistle Down the Wind is known as a rock musical. Believing in having the live element of music in her productions, Whistle Down the Wind is no different for Leydier.
“I think the music is just fabulous. There are a lot of different styles which Andrew Lloyd Webber is known for and he does it very well. We have an excellent live band of top musicians and some wonderful actors so I think it is going to do very well,” said Leydier.
The play runs at the Penticton Lakeside Resort from Dec. 19 to 22 with shows at 7 p.m. and a 2 p.m. matinee on Dec. 22. Tickets are $28 and available at the Lakeside.