Reviewed by Joanne Hughes
The magic of Christmas all wrapped up in one fabulous show!
The story of The Snowman was first told in the children’s picture book by Raymond Briggs, published in 1978, and then, subsequently, made into a short animation film in 1982. It was through this film, that the acclaimed tune ‘Walking in the Air’, sung entrancingly by the boy soprano Aled Jones, became embedded in the national psyche. Ever since, it’s become one of our nation’s modern Christmas traditions as each year families gather together to immerse themselves in the nostalgia and enchantment of this timeless tale of a young boy who builds a snowman which comes to life in the night, and the adventures they have on this one magical eve. Thus, you can imagine the delight of myself and my seven-year-old son at being offered the opportunity to see this charismatic story be performed live on stage at the wonderful art deco Mayflower Theatre in Southampton.
After an epic journey to Southampton, due to an accident on the motorway, we managed to easily find parking near to the theatre, and were warmly welcomed by a very friendly and helpful member of staff. We headed to our seats, with a quick visit to the toilets on the way – which I feel are the only downfall to the beautiful building as they are quite small and cramped – it is even a squeeze at the entrance to them. Our seats were located right near the front on the ground level, affording us a fantastic view of the stage and actors and their faces, expressions and moods portrayed throughout the show, which allowed us to truly join in the experience of the performance.
The show tells the tale of a boy who makes a snowman, then wakes in the night to find him transformed to life, and a new friendship is kindled. The boy shows the Snowman around his home, which involves a lovely encounter with the family cat, until the Snowman pulls his tail; a near-miss when the Snowman gets too close to the fire and starts to melt; and a fun scene in which life-size fruit come out of the fridge and do a tropical dance. There’s also a tender and sweet dance sequence involving the Snowman and a jewellery-box ballerina, tin soldier, and teddy bear, as well as a humorous disco scene when the Snowman finds a light switch and switches it on and off continuously.
The boy and the Snowman, then venture outside where they find a motorbike and sidecar, and the friends embark on a magical adventure. A cast of woodland creatures creates a charming winter scene, as the snowman and the boy dodge haphazardly around the stage on a motorbike. The two then gracefully take flight to the wondrous tune of ‘Walking in the Air’, and a starry-skied journey to the North Pole ensues, where they meet dancing penguins, other Snowmen, an Ice Princess, and Father Christmas. This Lapland party scene has a lively tone, with a joyful cast bringing fun and frolics to the stage. It is at this point that the evil Jack Frost appears, and a mesmerising dance between the Snowman, Ice Princess and Jack Frost delights us all, particularly as good wins over evil, and they all escape the clutches of Jack Frost. As the night ends, the Snowman and the boy once again take flight and return home, where the boy heads off to sleep. When he wakens in the morning, a saddening scene befalls as he finds the Snowman melted. However, it once again begins to snow (even in the audience), so we are left with the thought that the whole adventure could be repeated.
The Snowman brings together a wonderful concoction of ballet, music, drama, wonder, laughter, joy and sadness in an engaging and enthralling, family festive show. The stage setting is brilliant, the choreography is stupendous, the music enchanting, and the cast amazing – with particular mentions to the boy, played by the Gallacher twins, whose joy and wonder was so expressive it was truly mimicked on the audience’ faces; and to the Snowman, played by Martin Fenton, whose Snowman stride was so perfect, it was as if the film character himself was on the stage.
This is a delightful performance which appeals to all ages, and captivated my son’s attention throughout – a must-see for all.
Tickets cost from £14 to £31 (booking fees may apply).
The Snowman is at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton from 10-14 January 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.mayflower.org.uk or call the box office on 02380 711811.
Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1GE | 02380 711811