If you are looking for a London Christmas Show to treat the Kids to, look no further than The Snowman. Children of all ages will be enthralled by this winter wonderland fantasy based on the famous Raymond Briggs Story Book.
I took my family to watch the 2023 cast sprinkle their magic on The Peacock Stage for what will be the show’s 26th year in residency at Sadler’s Wells. Expect Snowmen, Santa…and a snow-globe of seasonal surprises. Read on for our The Snowman Peacock Theatre Review.
It is the opening matinee and press performance of The Snowman. London’s Peacock Theatre is awash with excited children of every age, sparkling in their holiday best. From babies crawling in the aisle to grandparents and all in between, this an all age crowd primed for a good time.
Chances are you already know the story. The award winning film by Dianne Jackson of the same name airs every Christmas without fail.
What is The Snowman about?
In short: A small boy builds a snowman who magically comes to life. The boy takes his new friend on a tour of his home before they take off flying through the air to the North Pole. Here they are joined by Snowmen from all over the world who have gathered to meet Father Christmas for a party. The show ends with the boy waking to his melted friend. He is left wondering if it was all a dream until he finds a memento from his magical adventure – a scarf given to him by Father Christmas.
The show’s first half is largely faithful to the book (and film). The young boy in his familiar pinstripe pyjamas and tartan night robe awakes to snow in his picture perfect family home. His parents are nostalgically gendered with mum doing the ironing and Dad busy ‘fixing something’. Carol singers gather and we are transported to a bygone era of innocence and goodwill.
Given that the film version of the book lasted only 26 mins there is some necessary embellishment to the narrative.of the stage show of The Snowman. There are some lovely scenes to watch out for this year. The coming to life of the toy box toys, a comic couple of penguins and the quartet of woodland animals proved big hits with the children.
They were similarly thrilled by the unforseen sight of a Coconut, a Banana and a Pineapple having a limbo contest in the kitchen.
The biggest deviation from the original story is the inclusion of show ‘baddie’ Jack Frost. Frost emerges like a bejewelled Edward Scissorhand to bestow unwanted attention on the Ice Princess (another character addition) who seems to have become quite fond of the Snowman.
What follows is a rather bizarre but playful love triangle battle with the ‘damsel in distress’ Ice princess jostled between her two unlikely suitors.
The Children loved these pantoesque slapstick shenanigans although for me it felt slightly outdated and I was ready for the Ice princess to assert herself a bit better.
The staging of the show has a similarly retro feel with blackouts used to transition to new scenes. The first one came very unexpected and lasted a good 20 seconds leaving the little ones to question if it was the interval already.
I think we have become so used to clever and unconcealed onstage scene changes that this felt quite novel. However the young audience seemed to enjoy the blackouts and the anticipation of the magical new sets emerging from darkness.
Is The Snowman a ballet?
Robert North’s choreography is performed here by the Birmingham Rep. There is no spoken word and the story is conveyed through mime, physical theatre and dance, not forgetting Howard Blake’s iconic score.
Whilst ballet is the driving force behind the choreography, North takes a fun and casual approach drawing on other styles of movement and characterisation. Having said that for budding ballet dancers there are some meaty moments of classical dance – The Ice princess and music box ballerina both perform traditional tutu clad solos.
This makes The Snowman a great choice for ballet fans who are still too small to endure the more formal Christmas ballets such as The Nutcracker.
What age is The Snowman for?
I find it a bit unhelpful when a show is billed as ‘for all ages’. In my experience they never really are. The Snowman is the exception.
The atmosphere is relaxed and children of all ages are welcomed warmly. babes in arms under 18 months do not require a ticket and there is a buggy park in the bar. The Show lasts a seemingly short 1hr 50 mins and there is a 20 minute interval for toilet breaks and ice cream.
My 8 yr old, 6 yr old and 5yr old boys all loved this show in equal measure.
The story is easy to follow, fast moving and colourful. The costumes are larger than life and the set is impressively enchanting. The proscenium stage is converted into a snow-globe with immersive snowy projections – a sensory treat for even the tiniest of theatre goers.
And of course who can resist the magical moment the Snowman and the little boy take flight against the soundtrack of Howard Blake’s hauntingly beautiful ‘Were walking in the air’ played by the live orchestra?
With 26 yrs behind it ,you may hear critics call for a revamp of this beloved classic. Whilst some choices may appear dated, the timeless charm of The Snowman endures and for yet another year at least, this remains one of London’s hottest tickets for families.
The Snowman runs until 30th December at The Peacock Theatre. A family ticket costs from £90.
Director – Bill Alexander
Choreograhpy – Robert North
Lighting Design – Tim Mitchell
Design – Ruari Murchison
Music Supervisor – Howard Blake