THE SNOWMAN: based on the book by Raymond Briggs
Birmingham Rep (at Birmingham ICC), then Peacock, London
Runs: 1h 45m, one interval, till 31 December, Peacock till 8 Jan
Review: Rod Dungate 18 12 11
A firm friend and still a source of magical delight.
This full length dance piece was conceived in 1993 – a collaboration between Bill Alexander (then Artistic Director of the Birmingham Rep), Howard Blake (composer of Walking in the Air and this full score), and Robert North (Choreographer). The Snowman’s snowy landscape is now a regular feature of Birmingham’s and beyond Christmas landscape. And a good job too.
It’s as charming as ever and still has the power to hold the attention of an auditorium full of children.
Watching it for (I think) the third time, I am struck by the innocence of the piece (a point picked upon by a number of parents if my eavesdropping is accurate.) This is its real charm, made possibly by the fact it is a dance piece; the story is told in big bold strokes. And the stage pictures enhances the picture-book quality.
But I’m also struck, this time round, by the performance’s wit; children pick up on it, which is thrilling.
Fine dancing from The Snowman, beautifully capturing the character in a ponderous, weighty walk. The Boy is equally well characterised; this is a boy characterising through movement to music rather than a dancer portraying a boy. The difference is subtle, but essential as this character draws us into The Snowman world.
An excellent Father Christmas, danced with humour. And Jack Frost is strongly danced with great menace and agility. The ‘battle’ between Jack Frost and The Snowman for the hand of the Ice Princess is terrific, moving into a marvellous tango. The Caribbean fruit dance brings lots of laughter, as does The Snowman cooling his bum in the fridge – as you do . . . if you’re made of snow.
The Snowman: Chris Sweeney
The Snowman: Bradley Applewhaite
The Boy: Lewis Coppen
The Boy: Isaac Rouse
Jack Frost, Pineapple: Giuseppe Lazzara
Dad, Father Christmas: Michael Longstaff
Banana, Soldier, Fred Astaire: Josheph Fletcher
Coconut, Cowboy: Remi Laudat
Scotty, Badger, Reindeer: Emma Fisher
Ice Princess, Music Box Ballerina: Caroline Crawley
Chinese, Rabbit: Sarah O’Connell
Penguin Teddy: Samia Stilo
Jolly, Squirrel, Reindeer: Melany Pellegrino
Dance Captain, Arab, Cat, Reindeer: Raquel Gaviria
Mum, Fox, Reindeer: Ceri Jerome
Penguin, Teddy: Tomoyo Tanimoto Jequier
Music and Lyrics: Howard Blake
Choreographer: Robert North
Director: Bill Alexander
(The three of whom created the scenario)
Music Supervisor: Howard Blake
Designer: Ruari Murchison
Lighting Designer: Tim Mitchell
Sound Designer: Richard Brooker
Assistant Choreographer: Rossella Capriolo, Anita Griffin, Julian Moss