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The Snowman at Birmingham Rep - Review

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by dpm (subscribe)
dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
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A show to melt the hardest of hearts
Festive favourite The Snowman makes a welcome return to Birmingham Rep after an absence of three years. Created by the Rep in 1993, the show, based on the best-selling book by Raymond Briggs, has gone on to be one of the theatre's most successful productions, touring across the UK and internationally for decades.

And it is easy to see why. The show is colourful, funny, has brilliant characterisation and is a heart-warming tale - enough to melt even the coldest of hearts. From dancing bananas through to Father Christmas and the wicked Jack Frost, the show is packed full of imagination, humour and vitality.

The Snowman Birmingham Rep
The Snowman


First directed by former Rep artistic director Bill Alexander, the genius of the production is in handing over the storyline to music, dance and mime. With no dialogue but a couple of songs, the story is driven by its actions rather than its words.

Its music, created by Howard Blake and including the Christmas favourite 'Walking in the Air', remains central to the show's success taking us from fun-filled action through to lyrical romance with tunes that you'll be humming for days. Performed by a live band, one of the challenges in the audience is to keep an eye on the stage and also see the amazing musicians led by musical director Costas Fotopoulos.

Robert North's choreography appears simple with penguins bumping stomachs, the little boy stomping through snow and Jack Frost leaping to the heights but it perfectly captures the different moods of the various settings and relationships.

The sets and costumes, designed by Ruari Murchison, take us round the little boy's house and into the South Pole with lots of ingenious details, where what is typically ordinary becomes extraordinary so that a light switch can become a disco and a fridge a whole new world.

The Snowman Birmingham Rep
Snowy Spectacular at Birmingham Rep


On press night, nine-year-old Ethan Sokontwe took the part of the little boy and was really impressive with his expression and movement. I've seen a good many productions of The Snowman and Ethan is one of the best boys I've seen the moment when he discovers his new friend has melted and in which he picks up his hat from the ground really pulls at your heartstrings. Martin Fenton plays a Snowman, who is both bumbling but also intensely poetic; his pas de deux with the Ice Princess is a beautiful moment of calm in the show.

The Snowman has consistently proved to be popular because behind its special effects, humour and fun is a message about friendship. It may be between a little boy and an ephemeral Snowman but it is a pure friendship with no judgement, no rules and lots of love. The Snowman plays Birmingham Rep until January 9 click www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/the-snowman/ for more information and ticket.
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Why? Festive favourite returns
When: Until 9 January 2022
Phone: 0121 236 4455
Where: Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Cost: From 17.50
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