The Snowman – Review – Hull City Hall
By Karl Hornsey, December 2017
I love the build-up to Christmas, that magical fortnight or so of anticipation and excitement, culminating with Christmas Day and Boxing Day. After that, to be perfectly honest, I’ve about had enough of the season of goodwill, so it takes a lot to restore the festive spirit in me.
However, that’s exactly what The Snowman at Hull City Hall managed to do, providing a wonderful 90 minutes of entertainment for all ages, climaxing in a big-screen showing of the iconic Raymond Briggs animation, accompanied by a live orchestra.
The tour has been organised since 2013 by Carrot Productions, who celebrated their 100th performance this year, with their 26-piece orchestra featuring some of the leading musicians in the country.
The programme was short and sweet, beginning with the ‘Christmas Overture’, featuring a medley of favourite carols and songs, which provided a familiar and ideal start to the entertainment. This was followed by the quirky ‘Snowman Express’, presented by Artistic Director Daniel Whibley, which introduced each section of the orchestra to the audience, allowing those unfamiliar with classical music to hear each instrument in turn, accompanied by cartoon drawings on the big screen.
After this the programme varies depending on which performance you go to see – either the Nutcracker Suite, Cinderella or, in our case, The Bear and the Piano. This 15-minute animation, written by David Litchfield is narrated by Joanna Lumley and with a score by Carrot Productions’ very own Daniel Whibley, is new to the 2017 tour, but looks set to become a family favourite for many years to come.
Before the short interval there was still time for the ‘Snowman Waltz’, a quick piece also written by Whibley, with the children (and some adults it must be said) enjoying a visit from the producers’ very own Snowman, who made his way around the hall much to the audience’s delight.
The second part of the show was dedicated solely to a showing of The Snowman, which has been a staple of the Christmas period since it was first shown on Channel 4 in 1982. While its author Briggs may proclaim to hate the story, the rest of the nation seemingly disagrees, and Christmas wouldn’t be the same without watching both it and its sequel, The Snowman and the Snowdog.
To see the film played out on the big screen and accompanied by such talented musicians was a real treat, which was over all too soon, although their was an understandably mixed reaction at the end to such a sad story, with many of the children present probably witnessing the emotional conclusion for the first time.
Carrot Productions clearly have a winning formula on their hands and some venues for the 2018 tour have already been announced. Hopefully Hull will be on the list once again, and preferably before Christmas, as this would have been even more special to see just before the big day, rather than a few days after, proving a perfect way to get children involved in live music, as well as showcasing the remarkable talents brought together by the company.
Top and bottom image: Gareth Widowson