The Snowman is walking in the air and dancing across the boards at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre (The Rep) once again; 20 years after this stage show first premiered there. The Rep had staged a further performance in 2010 which was specifically for a DVD. Since the birth of this live stage show in 1993, The Snowman has been performed in London’s theatreland (for 15 years) and has toured internationally.
The musical score and lyrics, by Howard Blake, originally written for the short TV film directed by the late, Dianne Jackson, is now wholly familiar with a new generation of children. The musicians deliver a tight, celebratory performance that is honest and true to the premise.
The attention to detail in the overall production is commendable, from the music box Ballerina, and the miniature Snowman on top of the Christmas cake, to the chugging old motorbike and sidecar. I admire, in fact, all infinite considerations made, big and small, in and around the scenery turnarounds.
The set designs are visually appealing for a child, and for that child in us all. There were obvious signs throughout that the children attending were enjoying their evening and that it was a real treat for them. One sweet little boy, sitting in my row, was disappointed when the interval break arrived as he wanted to see The Snowman again. But I noticed his emotions had surfaced when The Snowman melted at the end; no surprise there really! But whatever the age, we are all touched by the inevitable!
Suitable for children aged four and up – as Jack Frost (played by returning member Daniel James Greenway), introduces a slightly darker feel to the geniality brought about by the other characters. He’s sent packing however, and there is no Christmas present for him from Father Christmas.
The ballet performances help to portray a sense of the classics throughout, and at the rare times when the storytelling strays from the original, there is an echo of the classical Russian ballet about it. Fairytale themes feature strongly in this genre, and such tales often included creatures. This slots in nicely with the woodland animals, the penguins; and not forgetting the Whale, all of which The Snowman’s author, Raymond Briggs brought to life in his famous picture book, on which this show is based.
The costumes, wigs, make-up and props are so enhancing. I assure you that nothing is overlooked.
This tale has far reaching appeal which is why it is so enchanting. And even though The Boy (Joe Sheridan) is the only human at the snowman’s party, people of the world are reflected in these snowy characters. Magic rules, for sure, but ordinary everyday things are just as dominant; this production picks up all the threads and runs with it.
Young, Joe Sheridan, has great body shape, balance and timing for dance. I hope he continues to progress. He will have learned much from working with professional dancer, Martin Fenton who plays The Snowman.
The Snowman is directed by Bill Alexander and choreographed by Robert North. Set and costume designs by Ruari Murchison and lighting by Tim Mitchell.
Running at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre Wednesday 8 – Saturday 18 January 2014. The Snowman also tours to the Peacock Theatre, London (27 Nov – 5 Jan), The Mayflower, Southampton (21 – 25 Jan) and Theatre Royal, Nottingham (28 Jan – 1 Feb). More about the show can be found at www.snowmanshow.com
***** FIVE STARS
Note: Reviewer, Debra Hall, attended the press night showing of The Snowman at The Rep (Birmingham Repertory Theatre) on Wednesday 08 January in an official capacity on behalf of Remotegoat Stage. This review is also published here