This is a production firmly aimed at the little ones, a cuddlier version of Raymond Briggs’ snowman that came to life and took his friend, the little boy, on a magical, sky-soaring adventure. Father Christmas makes an appearance, alongside two big-bottomed penguins and a crew of spindly-legged reindeer.
Robert North’s stompy, jig-like choreography is perfect for snow-covered feet (you can’t expect delicacy from paws, snow boots and flippers). Those desperate for something more balletic can look forward to turns by a music box ballerina and the maliciously spiky Jack Frost.
The second act brings the much-anticipated flying scene to the North Pole, an elegant technical feat, leaving the first act for boy and snowman to explore the house. Cue a few fun scenes like the dancing fruit doing the limbo in James’ kitchen and a living toy dance complete with teddy, toy soldier and ballerina.
The leaning Arctic pines of Ruari Murchison’s design keep the action in a kind of snowy tunnel, and Howard Blake’s score is much richer fare than children’s theatre usually offers. Walking in the Air is the only recorded piece, with the rest played by a live band.
While scene and music stay true to Briggs’ illustrations, there’s little left of the author’s melancholy. The show doesn’t dwell on the snowman’s melting, skipping sharpish into a hand-clapping group finale - but who can blame them. It’s unavoidably, persistently jolly, and those of a Grinchy frame of mind would do well to steer clear.
|The Snowman Live Show at the Peacock Birmingham Repertory Theatre
|Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, London, WC2A 2HT | MAP
23 Nov 16 – 01 Jan 17, Shows at 11am, 2:30pm and 7pm, check individual dates for details
|Click here to book via the Sadler's Wells website