Musical: Melting into mediocrity

The Snowman Peacock Theatre London

THE ONLY similarity between snow and cotton wool is that they're both white. The only similarity between the animated film of Raymond Briggs's The Snowman and this musical is - well, the music.

As far as the snow goes, they've used a kind of netting a bit like an all-over tutu. But otherwise, Bill Alexander's production is low on ideas.

He relies heavily on Howard Blake's much-loved score, which prompts unfavourable comparisons. At best, it's a pale imitation of the film; at worst, it's just slavish.

The Boy takes the Snowman into his house and shows him his world. The same jokes were there, plus a few new dance numbers thrown in (a limboing pineapple, a tangoing teddy). An odd design decision makes the furniture oversized once the Snowman is alive, even though it was the normal size before. Some of it is very naturalistic, such as a real metal sink spouting sawn off copper pipes. Too many changes of scene make it all very laborious.

Towards the end of the first half, things seem to be taking off when Snowman and Boy soar into the air. A little bit of magic certainly stirs the air. But any Christmas show worth its salt will have actors on wires before too long. Once they're up there, the ideas run out again.

The Snowman stage version should really be a ballet. The second half is much more fun. Here you have dancing snowmen in kilts and cowboy suits, penguins, reindeer, and Father Christmas himself. Robert North's choreography has a certain charm.

Children could do worse than this for their Christmas outing - but I've a feeling they could do better.

A version of this review appeared in later editions of yesterday's paper

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