Just in time for the winter weather, the international touring production of Slava’s Snowshow, created and staged by world-renowned Russian clown and mime Slava Polunin, has arrived at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre for an eight-week holiday engagement on the Great White Way, marking the tenth anniversary of its New York debut in 2009. Performed by Slava and a rotating troupe of eleven master clowns, the inventive show is a captivating treat for all ages that will make you forget about the freezing temperatures outside and immerse you in a theatrical blizzard of imagination and delights.
Using a clever makeshift set (hanging silver-studded dark blue cloths topped with mounds of fabric snow), simple everyday props (a broom, a butterfly net, a metal bedframe), oversized costumes (a pair in yellow, a group in green, all in red noses and big shoes), and their priceless clowning skills, the performers transport us to a world of fantasy, fun, and feelings in a sequence of captivating segments that convey silly, sad, and strange stories without the need for dialogue (but some occasional bursts of gibberish), as they traverse land and sea to discover the joys of life. Colorful lighting and an evocative sound design (chugging trains and whistles, chirping crickets and pounding heartbeats) and score (including traditional Russian music, Vangelis’s lofty theme from Chariots of Fire, and the “Obá Obá Obá” refrain from the Brazilian samba song “Mas Que Nada”) help to engender the changing moods of the engaging spectacle.
There are bubbles and fog, giant cobwebs and torrents of water, white confetti and floating bouncing balls of all sizes that encompass and cover the house and draw us into the reverie of Slava’s heartfelt fusion of laughter and drama. There are also opportunities for interaction and participation with the irresistible posse, as they walk through the aisles dispensing snow and rain, balance on the arms of our seats to they make their way through the midst of the audience, elicit our applause and conduct our cheering, in fully immersive scenes that will leave you dazzled, touched, and exhilarated.
Each of the clowns is consummately versed in the tricks of the trade, from sad-faced sighing to hilarious pratfalls, slow-paced shuffling in hunched-over postures to synchronized movements and exuberant dancing, in an arresting performance that provides top-notch entertainment for the whole family. Among the highlights are a sidesplitting table-and-chair bit done on a diagonal, a romantic farewell pantomime using a coatrack, hat, and coat, and a seafaring adventure with a circling shark (though a piece with two stuffed rotary telephones is amusing, it runs a little too long). And, of course, the grand finale is truly grand!
Slava’s Snowshow offers a unique experience that will ignite your imagination and rekindle your sense of childlike wonderment. Be sure to partake of all its marvels while it’s here on Broadway for the holidays.
Running Time: Approximately one hour and 40 minutes, including an intermission.