Given that Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company’s production of The Snowman has been touring the UK and beyond since 1993, it should be no surprise that it is a show capable of melting even the coldest of hearts.
Yet witnessing the show and experiencing its magic IS a surprise, as its charm proves totally irresistible to young children and adults alike.
For those few unfamiliar with Raymond Briggs’ original book, The Snowman tells the timeless tale of a young boy who builds a magical Snowman on Christmas Eve. When the Snowman comes to life, together they go "Walking in the Air" over land and sea to meet Father Christmas in one wonder-filled night.
Faithful to the original, the heart-breaking ending is the same in this production as it is in the book, and, as the boy (played by the adorable Lewis Coppen) awakes the next morning to a hat-topped pile of slush where his Snowman should be, I sobbed just as much this time around as I did when I was 6 years old. A brilliantly upbeat and energetic finale quickly comes to the rescue, leaving the audience with huge smiles, instead of the traditional hysterics.
And that’s what this production does so well: it brilliantly recreates all of the familiar Snowman scenes whilst seamlessly adding new ones that work to extend the tale for theatre. Told entirely through dance and physical theatre, Robert North’s choreography is a perfect match for Howard Blake’s soaring live score.
Imaginative and humorous, there is enough silliness here to keep adults going as well as children (Father Christmas dancing the Tango with a penguin, anyone? Perhaps a giant Coconut limboing around the kitchen?), although the sight of the children in the audience sighing, pointing and waving at the Snowman and the boy as they take flight onstage is ample entertainment for anyone.
Ruari Murchison’s design makes a giant snow-globe of the set and keeps a distinctly home-made feel to the costumes, as Tim Mitchell’s lighting ups the magic factor with every scene change.
The Snowman remains as magical, heartwarming as it always was and is still a must-see.