The Snowman: Walking In The Air For 20 Years And Still Melting Hearts
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We don't recall Jack Frost nipping at any noses in The Snowman, nor a marauding troupe of tropical fruits leaping out of an oversized fridge. But then we've never seen the Peacock Theatre's stage version of the Raymond Briggs weepie.
Believe it or not, The Snowman has been going in the West End for 20 years (at Christmas, at least), becoming as much of a parent-child bonding tradition as its classic book/subsequent Channel 4 forerunners.
It isn't difficult to see why: from the winter wonderland of floating foam snow — conjuring up nostalgia of white yuletides we never actually had — to Howard Blake's soaring piano score accompanied by pirouetting reindeer and penguins, this is Christmas writ large; a show woven from festive dreams, as immemorial as Santa.
Most of the classic moments from the cartoon film — the Snowman 'picking' nose from the fruit bowl, the moonlit motorbike joyride — are cleverly worked in to Birmingham Repertory Theatre's version. As for the aforementioned Mr Frost — he was apparently drafted in during the late '90s, to add 'edge'. He's probably the least effective of a good bunch of bonus characters — the dainty ballerina melting the most hearts. (Is it us or have she and the Snowman got a 'thing' going on? Probably us.)
The set's simplicity largely works in the show's favour, although things are creaky in places. The boy kicks up snow that isn't there. The motorbike's got a squeaky wheel. And when boy and snowman take flight in *that* scene, the harnesses are plain to see, jutting out the back of faux snow and pyjamas. But who gives a figgy pudding. Anyone with a sprinkling of imagination can oversee such niggles.
Oh, and for any adults still traumatised from the gut-wrenching ending of the original... well, just keep watching till the end.
The Snowman, Peacock Theatre, £15-£36 until 31 December 2017.
Last Updated 05 December 2017