Snow! The Musical

Richard Marsh; original score and lyrics by Andy Caine, Richard Marsh and Guy Pratt
Sound Theatre
(2005)

The West End’s wassail is now in full swing with this new show for Noël featuring almost every Yuletide pop song ever written, plus a bouncy lament to remind us of ‘When Christmas Was Christmas’ as a group of late shoppers go in search of the last bag of sprouts in the shops.

But with three interwoven love stories this is not just a seasonal singalong. Nor does it qualify as a pantomime, although up in Lapland a wicked Father Christmas (Anthony Clegg) has turned himself into a sort of Demon King with a black grizzled beard and a sneer for a smile, dreaming of global domination.

So to get the bad news out of the way: Santa’s dire scheme is to make every day of the year a Christmas Day, even if it means throttling an Easter bunny, slitting the throat of a Fairy Valentine, even stabbing St George with his own sword. And as for a bunch of Halloween ghouls from Transylvania, they are soon signed up to the Perma-Christmas faction as FC’s chief tormentors.

Alas, despite bad taste jokes and dire deeds, none of these machinations really work either as melodrama or comedy. But happily the two hour show is a real crowd-pleaser, one that should work wonders for office parties, thanks to an attractive, versatile line-up of talented performers who combine lovers’ joys and heartbreak with beautifully turned songs and dynamic dance routines.

As star of the show Bennett Andrews plays Nick, a Christmas elf, like a romantic leprechaun in emerald green, who comes down to earth to save us from Santa’s schemes, and finds himself falling in love with Victoria Bush’s deliciously cuddly Lizzie.

Their high-stepping ‘Fairy Tale of New York’ number features some really nifty footwork leaving Lizzie to dream of ‘Walking in the Air’, a melody that sends delicious shivers up one’s spine.

But Andrews also gives us a sensational song and dance rendering of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’, this time with pretty platinum blonde Hannah Spearritt, vocal star from S-Club 7, making her stage debut with this show as love-lorn Jilly, but clearly with a fine future in prospect as a musical actress.

Their romcom encounter, under one of Santa’s evil spells, leaves Jack — Daniel Reeves as Jilly’s ever-loving intended — alone and out in the cold. Thus, in pensive mood, he recalls in song that: ‘Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart’: although of course it will all turn out happily in the end for these star-crossed lovers, torn apart by family religious differences.

Completing a strong line-up Adrian Beaumont’s pious Pete, Jilly’s dad, has warm tender feelings for Jack’s mum, played with leggy insouciance by the tall and gorgeous Louise Davidson, who brings stardust to the show with her impressive list of major musical credits. And I was more than happy to be chucked under the chin by the charming Laura Checkley in Pippy Longstockings as a Frost maiden celebrating the snow of the title.

Tributes are also due to musical director Darren Reeves, leading his trio on keyboard, choreographer Kate Prince, and to Annalise Harvey whose imaginative costume designs enable the eight players to switch in a moment from drab day-wear or cartoon togs, to eye-catching, scarlet and ermine Christmassy outfits that help set the celebratory mood.

Reviewer: John Thaxter