The Snowman, Sadler’s Wells Peacock Theatre, London December 2015

by Emma Bumpus on December 13, 2015

Christmas spirit twinkles with London magic as careertraveller and family step into West End theatreland and applaud Raymond Briggs’s classic winter wonderland story of childhood dreams and adventure.

A step inside the Peacock Theatre is a colourful journey of culture and contemporary art form, the type that lures half a million people to see a performance at Sadler’s Wells theatres each year.

Instinctively born from a belief that ‘great art should belong to everybody’ we time travel back to the 20th century when Lilian Baylis, the so-called grandmother of national theatre, fundraised to rebuild Sadler’s Wells for all.

Inside the auditorium, a chain of charismatic international dance begins with an ingenious snow globe stage bursting with playful props that carry us across storyline mountains, as far as the North Pole! Snow capped trees and giant Christmas baubles fill the air with seasonal glee ready for a magical twist of ballet, swing and tango, the fluffy kind that rocks from the rafters!!

Through the eyes of a child we grasp a winter’s night tale that starts with an elevated bed encircled by show stopping snow whose flakes beckon orchestral play and fun filled comedy. A clever opening scene of a boy waking up to snow and rolling a snowball left to right stage brings snowman magic alive to a jam-packed audience of ecstatic families.

Whilst the snowman grows his character evolves from picture book to performance as Sadler’s Wells present the Birmingham Repertory Theatre production. A dazzling chocolate box assortment of characters unravels 105 minutes of sophisticated symphonic skill and dance which takes us to the sky and back!

Superb glittery ice lighting effects with frosty shades of ultraviolet lavender and indigo blue narrate this enchanting tale with graceful dance story choreography that floats upon composer and director Howard Blake’s legendary musical score.

Festive clad carol singers bring warmth and cheer against this this chilly polar backdrop, leading us skilfully indoors through a series of Brigg’s creative illustrations that capture the essence of childlike dreams and fantasy. Wonderfully executed sketches of snowman goings-on reveal sprightly eye-catching costumes performing comical acts of endearing friendship and cheeky antics from the kitchen to bedroom.

Generations of children fill the playhouse with laughter and smiles as surprising pieces of fruit, namely pineapple and coconut, display cleverly adapted dance routines of childish exploration. Madcap dressing up and furtive household play brings tuneful highs and lows, exposing short burst scenes of engaging prop and musical comedy teeming with snowman sentiment.

Hot and cold is a wacky ride on dad’s motorbike to a chill in the freezer where the showpiece “Walking in the Air” takes music and art on a flight through the sky. Written in 1982 by Blake for the animated film based on Briggs 1978 book, we watch this charming aerial act celebrate it’s 18th consecutive season at the Peacock Theatre.

Across the seas, the Arctic is an explosion of colour and diversity presenting Snowmen from Scotland to China with gleaming authentic costumes. From reindeers and toy soldier to captivating ice princess, energy and talent present a hand clapping show that makes Jack Frost heroic. Mesmerised by the variety of dancers and moves we swoon at the Fred Astaire Snowman, whose groove leaves an everlasting rhythm.

As Father Christmas delivers sleigh treasure we applaud the arts at Sadler’s Wells and smile in the knowledge that The Snowman lives on. Brilliant!

Further information:

Details of The Snowman performance and tickets can be found by clicking on the website Peacock Theatre.

General Information about Sadler’s Wells theatres and performances can be found on their website Sadler’s Wells.

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