snowman 19

The Snowman and the Snow Princess. Pictures: Tristram Kenton

The Snowman

Birmingham Rep


It is testament to the appeal of The Snowman that I ever never seen an audience with such a broad range of ages – from the very young to the very . . . ahem, not so young: all were present at Birmingham Rep to see its production, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

With the tale of a boy and his snowman a national institution, the challenge is to extend the well-known original story (in film format around 20 minutes and book format five minutes) to an hour and a half without diluting the magic; and then keeping little ones engaged for an hour and a half is another challenge altogether.

Both were achieved admirably by the addition of different set pieces, additional characters including a baddie in the form of Jack Frost (played with gusto by Ruben De Monte) and a snowman/ice princess love story subplot (which works a lot better than it sounds!)

There is enough action to keep the little ones entertained whilst not diverting too much from the original story, so you always know what’s going on.

There are also more snowmen than you can shake a stick at – giving each child a chance to pick their favourite – mine was the cowboy snowman.

The expected flying action when it does come is excellent and worth the wait with waves to the audience pleasing the children in the audience no end.

Snowman and boy

The Snowman and The Boy

One slight bugbear, which I am aware makes me sound like Victor Meldrew, concerns the sale of light-up children’s toys. I have no issue with their sale, after all it not only gives much needed revenue to the Rep but also adds a special feeling to the theatre visit for Children, but I do feel parents should be requested not to allow their children to turn them on and wave them about during the performance.  

For myself, as a parent, this is common sense but it appeared that for many parents this was not the case as the rows in front of me lit up like Blackpool illuminations throughout the performance. It is as disrespectful to the hard-working cast and as distracting to the audience as flash photography. Rant over.

The stage production is inventive and plentiful in its variety so the children never get bored. Particularly impressive is the initial house setting which does so well to busily set the scene and to establish the wonder of finding snow on a morning.

Designer Roar Murchison does an excellent job of pushing the story along and varying the scenery, without it feeling disjointed due to the excellent transition between scenes.

Choreographer Robert North does a superb job of packing in the action and Snowman Mark Fenton manages to look graceful yet true to being a snowman. Ice Princess Emanuela Atzeni is grace personified whilst the aforementioned Jack Frost provides a healthy dose of pantomime villainy.

In fact the cast are excellent with many taking on multiple roles, to great effect.

However, special mention must be reserved for The Boy, Lewis Chan, who was excellent and has skill and talent beyond his years.

If you love the snowman then this is the show for you - excellent fun and a lovely companion to the book and film.

I think the finals words should come from one of its target market, children.

My seven year old son’s view: “I liked the bit when they met all the different snowmen and I loved the house setting and all the parts that happened there. I thought the house set was very clever but thought that it would have been nice had they gone into the house and we then see the set the other way round.

My favourite characters were the boy and father Christmas, my (three-year-old) brother’s favourite was the Ice Princess.

The snow at the end was very good but I wished there was more of it. I would also like a version with the snow dog in it!

I would recommend going to see the Snowman and think it deserves four stars out of five.” To 26-01-19.

Theo Clarke . . . & Son


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