Anyone who loves Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman will love this Sadler’s Wells instalment at Peacock Theatre. The show, back at the theatre for its 16th consecutive Christmas, is a firm family favourite and it’s easy to see why.
The first half is full of the wordless wonder of Christmas that makes the original book (1978) and film (1982) so magical. Composer Howard Blake’s score is stunning in a theatrical setting and provides a soundscape so rich the lack of speech is hardly noticeable.
The magic of waking up on a snowy morning, that first tentative peek out the window, the excited skittering of slippers down the stairs (Archie Durrant is full of buoyant energy and fantastic as ‘The Boy’) — the simple joy of it is so evocative that the first moment we see The Snowman lift his head and take his first step, it feels like welcoming back an old friend.
For Briggs’ purists, it is worth knowing that the second half follows the plot of the film rather than the book. There’s the snowmen’s party, a very animated Father Christmas and his reindeer, but also a couple of new additions. Mischievous Jack Frost provides an antidote to all the sugary sweetness although his pantomime performance is slightly jarring, while the sugar plum fairy is a balletic treat.
Presented by Sadler’s Wells, the dance is neatly incorporated and very accessible to a young audience. It is dangerous to alter something that is so evocative for many people, and this production has done the right thing in staying true to the tale that many know and love. We melted.
The Snowman is at Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, Holborn, WC2A 2HT until 5 January 2014. Tickets cost £12-£32 and can be booked online or via the Ticket Office on Ticket Office on 0844 412 4300. Londonist saw this production on a complimentary review ticket.