Reviewed by Ilze Lee
If you asked me what my favourite film of all time is, it’ll have to be the absolute magical 27 minutes of ‘The Snowman’, from the children’s picture book by Raymond Briggs. There just isn’t anything else that comes close to it. In fact, it is a firm favourite for families all across the globe. In our own home, it is signalling the last few hours countdown before Santa comes, the last thing we do on Christmas Eve before trying to snuggle down. You might call us slightly over the top, as we also have a plethora of merchandise making its appearance every Christmas. It is a delightful and deeply ingrained part of our traditions, so when we were offered the chance to review The Birmingham Repertory Theatre production of The Snowman at Milton Keynes Theatre, we went with very high expectations.
The minute we entered the theatre, the enchantment begun with a larger than life snow globe setting the scene. The feeling never stops, as ‘The Boy’, played by Johnny Jackson, takes us through the wonderment of a young child, seeing a world covered in snow when waking up. The character is comical and adorable.
He spends the day outside building a large snowman, and once everyone is asleep, he sneaks back out to it and see it come to life. Every scene of The Snowman is perfectly captured. The loveable character, played by Kane Hoad, takes us through a journey with every new thing he experiences. From the interaction with the family’s cat, the trying on of different noses, the sneaking into the parent’s room… it is all there. The characters in the playroom coming to life was wonderful to see, with the ballet performance being absolutely stunning.
After an eventful (for the little wood creatures) ride in the woods and cooling down in the freezer, The Snowman and The Boy takes off on their big adventure. Even after all these years, the iconic sound of ‘Walking in the air’ continues to stir emotion. Flying over mountains and seas to the North Pole, they join other snowmen and -women from all over the world for a wonderful Christmas party. Even Santa joins in the merriment and they dance the night away. This was so funny to watch, with The Boy teaching them some new moves, as well as how to make snow angels.
There is a little twist to the original story, with Jack Frost and the Snow Princess making an appearance. As a big fan of the original story, I didn’t expect to like that, but I have to admit that I loved even this bit.
The Boy and The Snowman return home after he is given a gift by Father Christmas. Upon waking up, he runs outside to find his snowman melted. He knows that it’s all been real as he still has the gift.
This production really was outstanding. I tried to look for a negative, but to us that just didn’t exist. The stage, the lights, the sound, all breath-taking. The silliness, the dancing, the magic… it’s just all there. The Boy’s performance was outstanding, we fully bought into his sense of wonderment with everything around him.
It is no wonder that this production is the longest running Christmas show in the UK, with nearly 25 years on the clock. This bringing together of families is what theatre should be all about, and it left us feeling warm and connected, like just the spirit of Christmas can do.
We saw this production at Milton Keynes Theatre, which is always a pleasure to visit. There is nearby easy parking, and the staff at the theatre are always incredibly friendly and professional. This night was a complete 5/5 on all counts.
Tickets cost from £13 (plus £3.65 transaction fee.
The Snowman is at Milton Keynes Theatre from 15-19 January 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes or call the box office on 0844 8717652.
Milton Keynes Theatre, 500 Marlborough Gate, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK9 3NZ