Cartoon characters figure heavily in this year's Christmas show season in the West End with The Snowman and Casper the friendly ghost both putting in a festive appearance for young audiences.

Following last year's successful Christmas run, The Snowman returns to Sadler's Wells' Peacock Theatre from 25 November 1999 to 9 January 2000. Raymond Briggs' original illustrated picture book of The Snowman was published in 1978 and re-released last year to celebrate the story's 20th anniversary.

The stage show of The Snowman is directed by Bill Alexander, choreographed by Robert North, designed by Ruari Murchison and features Howard Blake's music and lyrics, including 'Walking in the Air'. In the story, a little boy flies away with the Snowman to the latter's snowclad home where they meet his friends the penguins, reindeer, foxes and other snow people.

David H Bell directs the new musical version of Casper the Friendly Ghost, the spook who prefers to help people rather than haunt them. Casper has been a children's favourite since he was first created by Joseph Oriolo in 1945. The character has featured in many television cartoon series as well as in the 1995 full length Hollywood film. Bell, who co-wrote and directed The Hot Mikado at the Queen's Theatre in 1995, has also written the book and lyrics for Casper the Musical, with music provided by Henry Marsh and Phil Pickett. The production opens at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 8 December 1999.