Edinburgh Festival Theatre, until Sat 30 Dec
The EastEnders Christmas special might be a ratings winner, but for most of us The Snowman is the real symbol of festive TV. Raymond Briggs’ tale of the little boy who wakes at midnight to find his snowman has come alive, has an old school charm that captivates wee ones, grannies and most folk inbetween.
Having made the transition from book to screen in 1982, a decade later Briggs’ story finally hit the stage. Birmingham Rep Theatre’s production was so successful that it moved to London’s West End where it played for nine Christmases straight. Now, Edinburgh audiences can find out what’s so special about the show.
At just 25 minutes long, Howard Blake’s original score wouldn’t even make it to the interval of the stage show. So Blake created another 60 minutes of music, keeping that quintessentially Christmas song ‘Walking in the Air’ at the centre. Those who saw Scottish Ballet’s charming Snowman in 2002 will remember Robert North’s jaunty choreography, which once again appears here.
The show has also been padded out with new characters, including a panto baddie-style Jack Frost and beautiful Ice Princess. Plus a plethora of dancing penguins and reindeer and some breath-taking ‘flying’. John Stalker, general manager at the Festival Theatre and one of the driving forces behind the original Birmingham production, says the show’s dance-theatre quality makes it ideal for younger audiences. ‘It’s a great show for kids - it hooks them, so parents love taking them because they know they’re going to be completely absorbed. And because there’s no text, it’s also easy for very young ones to follow.’