5 Star *****
Birmingham Repertory Theatre to Sunday 15th January 2017.
Runs: 1hr 20 minutes, with one 20 minute interval.
Tickets: 0121 236 4455
Review: Nigel Bellingham, 11/01/2017
Guaranteed to melt even the iciest of hearts.
The Snowman first premiered at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1993 and since then the story of one boy’s snowman coming to life has been delighting audiences in London’s West End and beyond. It is fantastic to see this production back in Birmingham with the same creative team that engineered the original hit still at the helm. Whilst the show itself grew out of the book by Raymond Briggs and the film directed by Dianna Jackson there is still nothing quite like experiencing this ballet live in a theatre full of children swept up in this magical Christmassy adventure.
I always find that the first few chords of Howard Blake’s ‘Walking in the air’ make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and that was definitely the case during last night’s performance. The sight of the Snowman soaring across the stage with the boy that created him is incredibly poignant and a beautiful reminder of the innocence and imagination that underpins a child’s view of Christmas, and which can so easily be lost as an adult in amongst the commercial pressures of buying presents and having to entertain distant relatives.
Federico Casadei is particularly entertaining as a highly energetic Father Christmas who switches from acrobatically leaping across the stage to suddenly clutching his back as age briefly catches up with him. Domenico Ramelli’s antic as Jack Frost are also guaranteed to excite boos, laughs and gasps from younger members of the audience when he attempts to disrupt Saint Nicholas’s yuletide party. Indeed, one of the best thing about the show is that it is never boring: from the moment the curtain rises there’s a visual feast of excellent dance underpinned by a gripping story that will ensure audience members of all ages are enthralled for the entire evening.
If you wanted to be cynical then you could ask if staging this production in January is appropriate- after all, it is very much a Christmas treat. However, I for one think that it is the perfect antidote for those cold wet nights that seem to haunt January, and I definitely left the theatre with a spring in my step. In short, you could do a lot worse than spending an evening soaring alongside Raymond Briggs’ Snowman who is guaranteed to melt even the iciest of hearts.
The Snowman: James Leece
The Boy: Cameron James Sutherland
Jack Frost, Coconut: Domenico Ramelli
Dad, Father Christmas: Frederico Casadei
Fred Astaire Snowman, Banana: Cameron Ball
Cowboy Snowman, Soldier, Pineapple: Russell Fine
Scotty Snowman, Mum, Badger, Reindeer: Hannah Flynn
Ice Princess, Music Box, Chinese Snowman, Reindeer: Caroline Crawley
Ice Princess, Music Box, Chinese Snowman, Reindeer: Tomoyo Tanimoto Jequier
Penguin, Badger: Kimberley Lawrie
Penguin, Teddy, Rabbit: Ami Tollin
Arab Snowman, Cat, Fox, Squirrel, Reindeer: Katrina Kelly
Jolly Snowman, Cat, Squirrel, Reindeer: Emily Hughes
Rabbit, Reindeer, Dance Captain: Emily Ayers
Director: Bill Alexander
Choreographer: Robert North
Music Supervisor: Howard Blake
Musical Director: Jeremy Young
Designer: Ruari Murchison
Lighting Designer: Tim Mitchell
Sound Designer: Richard Brooker