With just a week to go before Christmas, what better way to get into the Christmassy mood and feel, by heading to Victoria Hall in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent to watch The Snowman, an iconic film based on the 1978 picture book by Raymond Briggs, which we grew up watching as kids. We were invited to experience a live, professional orchestra playing the original score along to the 1982 film shown on a large screen, thanks to Carrot Productions. It was certainly a magical experience perfect for the festive time for our kids as it was their first time at the beautiful Victoria Hall and what more, they also had the opportunity to take photos with a real-life snowman before the show started. We had the privilege to watch the film come to life thanks to the talented musicians who played the live rendition of Howard Blake’s beautiful soundtrack which included the Incredible Overture.
As a child, I remember watching this film over and over again, especially at Christmas. What I hadn’t realised was that our youngest son who is four had never seen it before. So seeing and hearing it for the first time was truly special for him. The orchestra was utterly perfect, although I thought it could have been more of a prominent focus of the performance (but perhaps that is from an adult perspective). The children were enthralled and our youngest couldn’t believe that the music was coming from the people on the stage! The musicians were really brilliant, they played beautifully and the child soloist who sang the original song, ‘Walking in the Air’ sung by Aled Jones did really well, considering Aled is such a hard act to follow!
The Snowman experience offered much more than a viewing of the beloved movie, it was made extra vivid by the presence of live musicians / professional orchestra. The programme also included a second animation, specially commissioned by Carrot Productions which was A Donkey’s Tale. A heart-warming story of Dillon the Donkey, an ordinary donkey with an extraordinary dream that takes him on a journey that will change his life, has been specially written and composed by Daniel Whibley.
Overall this is a perfect introduction for children to hear and appreciate more classical music, as a cartoon becomes a perfect accompaniment.
Victoria Hall is a fabulous venue, it has maintained its old features with the addition of beautifully crafted modern features which work well as old and new gelled together. The venue is comfortable and filled with pleasant and helpful staff. My only complaint with the venue is that the cost of drinks/snacks is a little pricey…we spent £12 just for three ice creams (which were delicious but its a large expense if you head out with a big family), having said that, they were a real treat!
About Victoria Hall
The Victoria Hall was built in 1888 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Built-in local red brick and terracotta, the classical Grade II Listed venue originally held 2800 people, and has, over the years, been the scene of numerous concerts, wrestling contests, boxing matches and many rock gigs. The Victoria Hall was revamped in the mid-nineties, opening its doors once more in 1998 and has since then been at the heart of the Cultural Quarter, alongside its sister venue The Regent Theatre. The Victoria Hall has now established itself as one of the most popular venues on the touring circuit and has played host to an impressive array of famous faces, including Paul Weller, Morrissey, Jimmy Carr, Russell Brand, John Bishop and Bloc Party. It consistently attracts the biggest names in music and comedy to Stoke-on-Trent, as well as an array of children’s shows, music tributes and dance.
Where is Victoria Hall ?
- Victoria Hall is situated in Stoke-on-Trent City Centre (Hanley), easily accessible from the M6, junctions 15 and 16, and from the A50. Follow the prominent brown tourism signs for the Cultural Quarter and then Theatres. Ample secure parking nearby (£1 evenings).
- The Victoria Hall is situated next to the city centre bus station.
- Stoke-on-Trent railway station is a 10-minute bus ride or taxi drive away.
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* Photos copyright of Snowman Tour. We were given theatre tickets in return for the review.