“Whistle Down The Wind” opens on Friday

THIS Friday Ballywillan Drama Group will take to the Riverside stage in the all-Ireland amateur premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical, “Whistle Down The Wind”.

Set in 1959, this hugely successful family show has toured the world and entertained hundreds of thousands of people with its haunting story of a 16-year-old Louisiana girl who believes she has found Jesus hiding in the family barn.

Songs from this majestic show are universally known – “When Children Ruled the World”, “Whistle Down The Wind” and, of course, “No Matter What”, made famous by Boyzone, which went platinum and a No.1 hit in 18 countries, becoming the most successful song from a musical in history.

A principal cast of 15, an adult ensemble of 40 and two children’s troupes of 25 each make this the biggest show in the group’s history.

The two children’s troupes will alternate performances, as it is not allowed that children perform over such a long performance run.

Colin McClarty is well known to local audiences. He takes on the role of Amos, a young motorcyclist unhappy with his life in a small town and looking for adventure and love. Will he find it?

Vicky Creelman plays Candy, a young negro woman who is infatuated with Amos. 1950’s Louisiana is not the easiest place for her, and like Amos, she dreams of a life beyond it.

Ed is played by Adam Goudy. A vital part of the local community Ed has grown wise in the ways of the world, and in his own way surmounted the racist views of the times…almost Shay Reynolds plays the Sheriff, intent on preserving the delicate balance that ensures the lives of the town’s inhabitants are not disrupted by disturbing influences. He leads the hunt for “the Man”.

Assisting him is the Deputy Sheriff, played by Tom Waddell. He is less concerned with keeping a balance and is more ready to use force to settle the issue.

Ben Levy plays Earl, a young man who picks up work here and there. With the annual visit of the Snake Preachers on Christmas Eve, he is currently helping them to preach some Gospel in their own extreme style. He is also prone to spying on his neighbours a bit… Ian McGinley plays the Snake Preacher. With a strict revivalist style of religion, he helps whip the townsfolk into a frenzy that clouds their judgement and sets the scene for the final hunt that ends in a blazing barn!

Richard Campbell is the Minister. The spiritual leader of the community, his words echo through the show, giving pause for thought to both young and old.

Lloyd Webber’s brilliant music for the show ranges through many styles from hymns to rock, and with lyrics by Jim Steinman (perhaps best known for working with Meatloaf on his most iconic tracks) brings 50’s small town America to life – a time when change was happening all around.

Whistle Down The Wind is now booking at the Riverside Theatre on 028 70 123 123 or book on-line at www.riversidetheatre.org.uk

The musical runs from Friday, January 18 to Saturday, February 2 with evening and matinee performances.

Full details of the children’s troupes and when they are performing can be found at www.ballywillan.com