The Snowman enchants at the Birmingham Rep

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, The Snowman made a triumphant return to the place where it all started last night, when it opened at the Birmingham Rep, delighting audiences of all ages. The timeless story of a little boy whose snowman comes to life and takes him on a unforgettable adventure is a delight, and in the charming Lewis Chan, it has a truly adorable leading man.

The Snowman is based on the classic Raymond Briggs story that was later turned into a animated film that is now a perennial classic, with the beautiful ‘Walking in the Air’ as much a part of Christmas as mince pies are. The theatre version is just as stunning and memorable, a perfect combination of mime and acting, music and dance, all held together with snowy backdrops and adorable life sized toys and animals.

The Boy (Lewis Chan) is excited to see the outside world transformed into a winter wonderland, and heads outside to enjoy the snow, making a rather large snowman in his garden. When night falls and his parents are asleep, the Boy creeps out to check on his snowman. He finds it has magically come to life and starts out on a night of adventure, first in the confines of his home, and then, after ‘Walking in the Air’, in a wonderful world of Snow people and Ice Princesses and even a certain Santa Claus. But even the best of adventures have to end, with the boy flying back to his bedroom as the sun comes up on Christmas Morning. But was it all a lovely dream?

Set-Up shots showing The Snowman @ Birmingham Rep Theatre.
©Tristram Kenton 

As mentioned, Lewis Chan was simply lovely in the role of the boy. Charming and adorable in a role could be annoying, Oscar had just the right amount of wide eyed wonder and his dancing and acting were both admirable. Also wonderful was the Snowman played by Martin Fenton, who managed to be both graceful and lumbersome in his dance with the enchanting Ice Princess. The beautiful sets added so much to the story, and the moment when The Snowman and The Boy finally soar into the sky actually had me wiping tears away – a lovely, magical moment.

Set-Up shots showing The Snowman @ Birmingham Rep Theatre.
©Tristram Kenton

There are not many theatrical experiences that offer the opportunity to watch a giant pineapple, coconut and banana limbo dancing, and with a stunning ending that I won’t spoil here (clue, you usually have to be outside to experience this), The Snowman continues to delight and enthrall audiences just like it did during Christmas 1993.

The Snowman

The HOUSE at The REP

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Making The World A Better Place – The Joe Takeover

My son Joe has been doing a very special project at school all about making the world a better place. He asked if he could take over Fashion-mommy to tell his school (and the world) what he has been doing.

Over to you Joe.

My school project is all about making the world a better place. My partners are Jack Ward, Oliver Haldron and Oscar Glass. We planned what to do together at school. So I decided to do my project in Wales in the Easter Bank Holiday.

I decided to do three things:

  • First I rode around our campsite on my JD Bug scooter instead of using the car and wasting petrol.

  • Secondly I did a litter pick around my campsite also using my JD Bug scooter, and looked at what could go in the recycling bin.

  • Finally, we went to the Dyfi Osprey project where I walked all around to have a look at all the rare insects and species they have there. Some of the Ospreys had still not come back from Africa where they go in the Winter time, but some other Ospreys had come to stay instead.

I really using my scooter instead of using the car because I got fresh air and wasn’t wasting any petrol or energy.

There was quite a lot of litter on the campsite and I didn’t really mind picking it up because it makes the campsite look tidier and neater.

The Dyfi Osprey project was a lot of fun. I found out that some frogs are born with no legs because birds had picked at them when they were frogspawn. I thought Monty the male Osprey was just amazing. I watched him in his nest eating his fish which he wouldn’t share with the other Osprey because she was not his partner. Ospreys are very big birds and I think they are cute too.

I thought the Osprey project was a lot of fun and I learnt a lot of new facts.

Conclusion

I have really enjoyed doing this project.

Jack And The Beanstalk Is Brilliant Fun At Wolverhampton Grand

What are the ingredients of the perfect panto? A handsome lead man and a beautiful leading lady? A fabulous dame with a series of eye popping costumes? A comedy sidekick who has all the best lines but doesn’t get the girl? A fairy who holds the show together with her magical narration? A baddie who makes the audience boo and hiss? And Doreen Tipton? If the answer to all the above is yes, then you are in for a total treat at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre this Christmas, as Jack and the Beanstalk have reunited last year’s dream team of Lisa Riley, Ian Adams, Adam C Booth and Doreen Tipton, and have added Gareth Gates, Graham Cole and Sarah Vaughan to this cast and have created a dream of a panto. It is seriously good fun.

The traditional story of Jack and the Beanstalk is one of the best known (and in my opinion) the best of all pantos, with it’s beanstalk, giants and goose that lays the golden egg. It is also ripe for hilarity, with Daisy the Cow taking centre stage for so many of the jokes. And you will never see anything as funny as the scene stealing Doreen Tipton (Gill Jordan) attempting to milk the said cow along with Dame Trott (Ian Adams also on hilarious form). That said, this is a panto that is full of side splittingly funny scenes and songs, ones that leave you still having a little chuckle long after you have left the theatre.

The whole cast is gloriously funny, all with their tongues firmly in cheek in the best of panto traditions. Gareth Gates as Jack still sings like an angel and his performance of Unchained Melody had many in the audience fondly remembering his performances on Pop Idol, whilst he has good stage presence to play the handsome hero. He is well teamed with Sarah Vaughan as Jill, who shows that she can also handle slapstick in her hilarious love scene with Gareth that is interrupted by Simple Simon with manically chaotic results. Screen Veteran Graham Cole is a super baddie as Fleshcreep, totally hamming up his wickedness, you can see how much he is enjoying himself, which totally adds to the fun and mayhem. Lisa Riley is again brilliant in her role, holding everything together with her Mother Nature, and very funny flinging toilet rolls into the audience during the crazy version of ‘The 12 Days of Christmas.’

 

But once again it is the side characters who steal this panto. Ian Adams is a fantastic dame, he has all the rude lines and brings the house down with them, as well as showcasing some of the funniest costumes seen on the Grand stage. His knowing asides to the audience about the quality of the jokes are super funny and raise laughs throughout. Adam C Booth makes a welcome return to the Grand after his super funny performance as Wishy Washy last year, and, at this rate will become the Grand’s Matt Slack, he is such a crowd pleaser. His scene with the market store where he tells a story with all the products his brilliant, as is his poo, boo, moo rhyming scene. But once again it is Doreen Tipton who absolutely brings the house down with her hilarious lines and deadpan delivery. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything as funny as Doreen dancing, I didn’t think a dancer could be referred to as idle, but Doreen has this honour, and that is a total compliment.

The songs, the scenery, the direction is all admirable, making this another triumphant panto for the Grand.

Great Fun – Go see.

Wed 13 Dec – Sun 14 Jan

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

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