The performance I saw was by the U.S. touring company which did a quick stop at the Princess of Wales Theatre here in Toronto. I like being a stop for touring companies — first Wicked, now Whistle — because it allows me to enjoy a show that would otherwise not be produced here simply because it might not sustain an extended run. The casts are pretty good (not second-rate, as I originally feared). Besides Kunze, the other lead was excellent as well. Justine Magnusson played Swallow, the oldest of the kids. She carried many numbers vocally with a strong and beautiful voice; and her character’s being on the verge of womanhood was expressed really well in her performance.
Being very familiar with the original cast recording, I noticed that they cut out a pair of pretty memorable numbers (The Man was telling the kids a tall tale about a wild couple known as Annie and Charlie). They really fit in well with the tone of the story, but if you had to cut something, I guess they do lift out pretty cleanly (but if you pick up the CD you should definitely check them out). Unfortunately the songs were replaced by a clearly-inferior, non-Lloyd Webber song called “The Tribe” that tried to throw in pop culture references of the day and just didn’t fit. Still, almost all the other numbers were just as I imagined them.
Compared to most other shows I’ve seen, this one had a less elaborate set and required less staging (again, there were numbers with characters just standing around), so it was not quite the spectacle that Wicked or Joseph were, and in that regard resembled a play more than a musical. Nevertheless, the story itself was full of drama, bringing together several story-lines in a satisfying way. (4 out of 5)