Omitting the customary overture, the show plunges straight into the first scene. The main character John Tallentire, a newly married man is taking part in a hiring fair, which were held bi-annually. Men and women travelled for miles to be “hired on”. The stage is full of movement and snatches of dialogue, as labourers and farmers bargain over wages.
Based on the novel by Mary Hayley Bell and subsequent Richard Attenborough-produced film, Whistle Down the Wind follows the fortunes of a fugitive caught between the prejudice of adults and the innocence of the young. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman, together with Patricia Knop and Gale Edwards (co-book writers with Andrew Lloyd Webber) reset the original story in Louisiana in 1959.