The childhood rite of passage of building a snowman is at the heart of this well-loved classic that has become as much a part of the festivities as mince pies and brandy butter. Grab your hat and scarf: the Snowman is back in town!
There’s something intrinsically romantic and poetic about snowflakes falling in serene silence. And watching the tiny white spots floating dreamily down the stage curtains, we were transported into a pretty snowscape from the start.
As the curtains rose, we could see our tingling sense of excitement echoed in the eyes of a young boy who awakes from a sleepy slumber to discover that the world had been covered in a thick white carpet (there’s a sugar sprinkling of snow from his window, but otherwise you have to use your imagination here).
As he scrambles out of bed and swaps his cosy jimjams for his civvies, the lad is out the door before you can say ‘Frosty’, throwing imaginary snowballs (though you could still hear the crash of broken glass after one particularly exuberant throw) and kicking us snow flurries. He builds a magnificent snowman, adding his signature features, hat and scarf, before his fun day in the snow is over.
The real magic begins when the young boy wakes in the middle of the night and can’t resist checking on his newly built snowman. Imagine his surprise – and delight – when his snowman has come to life and is ready for the adventure of a lifetime
There are no words in this ballet-cum-theatrical-mime affair, but there’s plenty of fun and gentle humour as the Snowman is invited to explore inside the boy’s house. His favourite place? Definitely the chill of the fridge, rather than the cosy fireside!
Seasonal favourites include a bad-guy Jack Frost wearing a spiky costume to represent his cold-hearted nature and gets a mild Boo! Hiss! from the audience, and a beautiful Ice Princess, who brings a touch of sugar plum in her shimmering tutu and high-kick arabesques and spinning pirouettes that will please budding ballerinas who like their prima ballerinas with sparkle.
And this is not just a tale of one Snowman. At one point, a whole slew of snowmen from all corners of the world join in. And it’s quite a spectacle to see dancing snowmen in cowboy chaps, Arabian garb, clown-face and kung-fu Chinese. There’s even a dapper Fred Astaire-inspired one with hat and cane. And if you’ve never seen a snowman in a kilt, now’s your chance!
Although there are no words in the show, the simple narrative is easy for young children to follow, and there’s lots of cute furry creatures, dancing and prancing around the stage in balletic hops and leaps, from sweet penguins to woodland rabbits and a fox.
With a fabulous musical score by Howard Black and choreography by Robert North, this is a wonderfully feel-good show that will put everyone in a festive mood. And, although author Raymond Briggs make sometimes complain about “that bloody Snowman”, the rest of us are grateful for the magic he brings.
There’s a good reason that The Snowman has become such an enduring classic and a firm family favourite. This Snowman rocks!
Why go? To savour the magic of a classic tale, and maybe start your own family tradition.
Who is it best for? Anyone dreaming of a White Christmas. Snowfall is absolutely guaranteed – especially if you are sitting in the first seven rows, hint hint.
Top tip Before you go, ‘read’ The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. It’s the wordless picture book that inspired first the animation (which added the motorcycle scene and a visit to Father Christmas). If you want to have the song ringing in your ears for days, The Snowman DVD is a must.
Our favourite bit When the Snowman and the boy take to the sky, it really does look like they are walking in the air. Magical!
Don’t go If you’re gonna rain on the parade. We all know that rain makes snow turn slushy!
While you’re there The Peacock Theatre is in London’s Northbank, home to some of London’s most famous art and architecture. During the Christmas season, Somerset House with its ice-rink and the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree are highlights. If you have time, schedule in a Charlie and The Chocolate Factory-inspired Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych, or wander along the Strand to admire the glisten of the pretty festive lights.
Fun fact The original Oscar-nominated Snowman animation, famed for the scene of the boy and his snowman taking flight to the swelling choral ballad Walking In The Air, has been screened every Christmas by Channel 4 since 1982.
Did you know? Renaissance artist Michelangelo, then a tender 19-year-old, was commissioned by the ruler of Florence, Italy in 1494 to sculpt a snowman in his mansion’s courtyard.