dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
Celebrating a very special friendship
There's a winter wonderland at Birmingham Repertory Theatre where The Snowman is currently holding centre stage. The production, created by The Rep, has just celebrated its 25th birthday and yet it's as fresh as the fallen snow it features.
Packed full of colour, life, laughs and a touch of pathos, The Snowman never fails to delight children and adults alike.
Based on Raymond Briggs' best-selling book and the ensuing animated film, it's the story of a little boy who wakes up one morning to discover a garden filled with snow and builds a snowman. When he creeps down the stairs after midnight to go and check on his creation, the snowman comes to life and the pair embark on a night of adventure.
But the magic of the production is that this story is told through music, dance, mime and imagination. Composer Howard Blake's music carries the narrative through with lots of memorable tunes and is best-known for its haunting song Walking in the Air.
Robert North's choreography ensures some beautifully sensitive dancing but also lots of fun set pieces with limbo-dancing fruit and a hoard of snowmen and women each in national costume with movements reminiscent of their country.
Directed by former Rep artistic director Bill Alexander, The Snowman draws the audience into the heart of this strange friendship so we too share that night of adventure. There are lots of lovely touches, from the snowman overheating by sitting too close to the fire to him cooling down in the freezer.
The sets, designed by Ruari Murchison, are ingenious, capturing various rooms in the house with just a handful of props, taking us into the white world outside, flying us across the seas and dropping us in the Arctic.
Robin Kent took the role of The Snowman at press night and full credit to him as it's a tough call to keep the dancing energetic and lively when you're hidden in a giant snowman suit. Lewis Chan, who took the role of the boy on press night, created the right balance of childlike charm, wonder and just a bit of cheek.
Emanuela Atzeni is light as a feather as the Ice Princess and who can resist Federico Casadei's loveable Father Christmas? The rest of the cast take a host of roles from belly-bumping penguins to bewildered badgers, all capturing the essence of their creatures.
The Snowman has been one of The Rep's biggest success stories, still attracting huge audiences after 25 years and will no doubt continue to do so for the next 25 years. It plays the main house of the theatre until January 26.