By Katrina ffiske
Christmas has arrived at Salisbury Playhouse. Back by popular demand, The Night Before Christmas combines magic and music in an enchanting production that is the perfect Christmas treat for young children and their families.
Just arriving at The Salberg puts you into a festive mood, children excited and chattering. The set, designed by Zoe Squire, is simple and cosy, the audience is sitting in the humble home of Martha and her parents. Pictures hang on the wall (a large painting of Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral tells us we are based in Salisbury) the fire is waiting to be lit, the chimney reaches into the sky, a gas lamp shines out from a corner.
From the moment the lights go down, we are engulfed in the magic of Christmas. Lara Stubbs (Mother) and Katherine Potter (Martha) are enchanting as they sing and dance, we clap our hands, stamp our feet to encourage letters to go up the chimney to Father Christmas. Children and adults alike are swept up with Martha’s over excitement for Christmas.
Adrian Grove plays father and is well-disguised as Father Christmas. Grove and Stubbs are faultless as the gentle, kind, parents, the witty script giving them warmth and humour. It really is quite moving when they sing a song dreaming of getting the simplest presents from Father Christmas.
There are clever effects throughout the show: the audience gasped when the sky was lit up up with twinkling stars, Father Christmas’s voice booms out as he lands in the garden and chats to his reindeer, chest of drawers turn into steps for the family to climb up to their bedrooms. Live music makes all the difference, this production is all the more magical as Glyn Kerslake plays the piano, lit by the gas light in the corner of the stage.
Everyone is cheering and clapping as Father Christmas gets stuck in the chimney, all entranced by how he actually gets stuck and eventually clambers out of the fireplace. Grove has everyone transfixed as he tells us what he likes to eat, asks us to guess what presents he has wrapped and invites children to help wrap a chair.
All the actors have a wonderful energy throughout the show, you almost feel cheated that you can’t get up and dance with them.
Clement Clarke Moore’s The Night Before Christmas has been adapted by composer Glyn Kerslake and Wiltshire Creative Artistic Director Gareth Machin. Christmas hats off to them both, and the cast, for creating a magical hour of music, songs, laughter and heart warming happiness.
The show runs at The Salberg at Salisbury Playhouse from Monday, December 10 to Sunday, December 16.