Thursday, June 10, 2021

588. WHISPERS ON THE WIND. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975


Nancy Dussault, David Cryer.

WHISPERS ON THE WIND [Musical/Romance] B/LY: John B. Kuntz; M: Lor Crane; D: Burt Brinckerhoff; S/L: David F. Segal; C: Joseph Aulisi; P: Bruce W. Paltrow and Mitchell Fink, b/s/a/w Lucille Lortel Productions, Inc.; T: Theatre de Lys (OB); 6/3/70-6/14/70 (15)

R.G. Brown, Nancy Dussault, David Cryer, Patrick Fox, Mary Louise Wilson.

A nostalgia-laden musical with a book so scanty it borders on being a revue, Whispers on the Wind, with whispers of Under Milk Wood and Our Town, tells a familiar story, summed up here by Clive Barnes: “a young man [David Cryer] . . . is born, grows up in a Middle Western town, goes to school, drops out of college, comes to New York, succeeds in publishing and gets married.” Aside from an excess of sentimentality and obviousness, the show was generally engaging. Still, it did not survive more than two weeks.

Edith Oliver lauded it as “a charmer—fresh, modest, and with a rare light touch” that told its story with “humor and tenderness.” Barnes was also on its side, enjoying its appropriate and supportive music (with hints of Simon and Garfunkle), its design, direction, and versatile performances, with each actor playing several roles. He said it was “thoroughly likable.” Arthur Sainer, however, was opposed because of its clich├ęd writing and “foot-dragging, unengaging score.”

The 15 songs had titles like "Whispers on the Wind," "Welcome, Little One," "Midwestern Summer," "Children's Games," "Miss Cadwallader," "Neighbors," "Apples and Raisins," and "Prove I'm Really Here."

Barnes noted: “David Cryer, with his powerful voice and presence, is superb as the detached and, yet, compassionate Narrator, and a gleaming Nancy Dussault, his co‐star, is equally good in a myriad of roles ranging from the very young to the very old.”

The talented company also included Patrick Fox, R.G. Brown, and Mary Louise Wilson.

Do you enjoy Theatre’s Leiter Side? As you may know, since New York’s theatres were forced into hibernation by Covid-19, this blog has provided daily posts on the hundreds of shows that opened in the city, Off and on Broadway, between 1970 and 1975. These have been drawn from an unpublished manuscript that would have been part of my multivolume Encyclopedia of the New York Stage series, which covers every show, of every type, from 1920 through 1950. Unfortunately, the publisher, Greenwood Press, decided it was too expensive to continue the project beyond 1950.

Before I began offering these 1970-1975 entries, however, Theatre’s Leiter Side posted over 1,600 of my actual reviews for shows from 2012 through 2020. The first two years of that experience were published in separate volumes for 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 (the latter split into two volumes). The 2012-2013 edition also includes a memoir in which I describe how, when I was 72, I used the opportunity of suddenly being granted free access to every New York show to begin writing reviews of everything I saw. Interested readers can find these collections on Amazon.com by clicking here. 

Next up: Whitsuntide.