A review by Tanya Howard
Forty years ago, Raymond Briggs’ beautifully illustrated book The Snowman transported children into the wintery wonderland of a boy and his snowy companion. Now, in its record-breaking 21st year at The Peacock, Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s twinkling production of The Snowman returns, as a magical mix of exquisite dance and live music lift the boy and his friend from page to stage.
If you are looking for a Christmas treat for the family then I would definitely recommend going to see The Snowman. With incredible sets, costumes and lighting used to imitate the illusion of snow, this show gave me all the Christmas feels that had been missing from my life. It truly felt like we were watching the story being plucked from the story and put on to the stage before our eyes.
The actors were all amazing dancers but more than that what I took was that it takes a great cast like this to portray an entire storyline with no words. The show starts out with the boy building his snowman, who comes to life in the night, and showing him around the house. Each room is set up really well, with my favourite being the toy room where all his toys came to life, including a ballerina from a music box, a teddy bear, train set and a toy soldier.
Once they have gone through each room in the house it’s time for the snowman to show the boy his world and yes, it’s the moment everyone is secretly waiting for, time to fly. I felt a real childlike wonder watching the show, you could barely see the strings as they flew across the stage and the set below changed and flowed with the story really well.
Despite having seen the film before I had gone blank on the story and so every moment was a twinkling of wonder of what was to come. After a short interval we were transported to the Land of the Snowmen, and they had an array of snowmen representing the world including a Scottish snowman in a kilt. Each snowman got their own dance introduction as a way of meeting the boy that had arrived in their land, and we also got to meet the Ice Princess and the big guy himself, Santa.
All seemed well until that meanie Jack Frost turned up and tried to control the snowmen and the Ice Princess to make her his. Thankfully the snowman wasn’t going to let this stand and after a dance fight he saved the Princess and they had a beautiful dance together, who knew watching a Snowman dance would be so lovely. Santa gives the boy a present and then it’s time to say goodbye to everyone and fly home.
In the morning the boy wakes up to find that the sun is brightly shining and so the snowman has melting. Thinking it was all a crazy dream he finds the new scarf that he was given by Santa as a present and knows that it really happened. The show ends with snow falling throughout the theatre and a big dance off on the stage as the cast took their bows to a cheering audience.
I was speaking to the family sitting near us as I overheard them say that they had been before and so I asked what brought them back every year. Sadly, they lost a child, but the music of The Snowman always brings back her memories and so has a special place in their hearts. They look at seeing The Snowman as the start of their advent, it’s now tradition to come and the kids are always so engrossed and entranced by the performance, it never feels like they are just seeing the same show over again.