Music and Lyrics: Howard Blake
Director: Bill Alexander
Reviewer: Maggie Constable
There is not a better time to see The Snowman at Milton Keynes theatre than at this foggy, frosty time of year just after Christmas. It brings back the magic that so often seems lost at the start of the January
Based on Raymond Briggs’ much-adored book and Diane Jackson’s film of the same name, this is the tale of a little lad’s North Pole adventures one snowy Christmas Eve when he wakes to find the snowman he has built has come alive.
The two fly into a wonderful world where they meet a whole host of characters, animals and even the evil Jack Frost. Young James and said Snowman develop a magical friendship too.
The stage show has been running for over two decades now and across the globe. This is a definite and very necessary winter warmer.
There are amendments to the original story and certain additions in terms of characters, such as the ballerina on the music box, and these allow the lovely dance to take place thus becoming intrinsic to the whole story and show. The Snowman himself delivers some very graceful routines whilst the Ice Princess (Emanuela Atzeni) performs some beautiful movements, including Tangoesque ones in their excellent duet in the second part of the show.
Indeed, the choreography from Robert North is wonderfully balletic (as one might expect from the ex-Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet) and at times great fun, for example, the two penguins. These rôles are taken on by Kimberley Lawrie and Ami Tollin, who truly bring the penguins to life and add much humour to the piece.
The Snowman himself, tonight brought to us by Martin Fenton, is rarely off stage and throughout his performance he develops the character and its relationship with the young boy played with confidence and believability by Cameron James Sutherland. They work well together. Davide Fienauri’s Jack Frost is a delightful villain who uses his leaps and facial expressions to convey this convincingly.
The set is simple yet delightfully effective and there are some great snow effects. The costumes, particularly those of the animals, are superb.
A live orchestra, directed by David Quigley, brings us a range of atmospheric music, so much better and more emotional than the recorded music sometimes heard in productions. The rendition of the classic number Walking In The Air is spot on, largely because of the harmonies between the two singers which make the song quite sound different from the film version.
The children are laughing and the adults are cooing. What more could an audience ask of such a show? A little bit of magic that goes a long way.
Runs until 20 January 2018 | Image: Tristram Kenton