Although Christmas may be over, the last of decorations swept away and life returning to normality, Birmingham holds onto the festive spirit for a little while longer. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s beloved production of The Snowman delights audiences for a nineteenth successive year.
Raymond Briggs’ famous story of The Snowman needs little introduction. One snowy Christmas Eve, the Boy builds a gigantic snowman. Hours later, he sneaks downstairs in the middle of the night to find his Snowman has come to life, and is ready for a host of magical adventures.
This classic production stays true to the original storybook with a few added surprises, making it more entertaining and interactive for a young audience. A very cool banana does the limbo, an energetic Father Christmas shakes his rounded bottom and, in a reversal of roles, a frightened fox jumps into a rabbit’s arms.
One of the most remarkable aspects of this production is that it clearly conveys the story of The Snowman to a very young audience purely through music, dance and special effects. Howard Blake’s iconic score conjures up a magical world, from stomping footsteps in the snow to lightly drifting snowflakes. Robert North’s choreography brings the characters to life, clearly delineating the differences between the humans, snowmen, magical animals and the evil Jack Frost. Special effects further enhance the storytelling, from a simple red glow showing that the Snowman is melting in the warm house, to the stunning flying effects that allow the Boy and the Snowman to soar freely across an icy landscape.
The cast brim with energy throughout the performance, creating an infectious sense of fun that spreads throughout the auditorium. Cameron James Sutherland is impressive as the Boy, with a strong dance technique and cheeky facial expressions. Domenico Ramelli is a stunning Jack Frost, with whirling pirouettes and a menacing snarl reminiscent of Macavity. Also worthy of mention is Tomoyo Tanimoto Jequier’s Ice Princess; dancing with a beautiful lightness of touch, she brings the character to life, and her pas de deux with the Snowman is a truly touching moment.
Whilst the production values are high, and performances very strong, The Snowman can only be truly judged by the reaction of its very young audience. Children are up on their feet, trying out ballet steps, laughing out loud and gasping as the Snowman flies around the stage. It is fantastic to see children so absorbed and captivated by theatre; The Snowman must be one of the best introductions possible to ballet. As real snow falls on the audience to the final notes of ‘We’re Walking In The Air’, it is clear that the magical wintery journey of The Snowman will be a family favourite for many more years to come.