Latest Review – Claus The Musical [The Lowry, Salford Quays]


The Lowry, Salford Quays (Quays Theatre)

Until Sunday 8th January 2023

Written in 1902, L. Frank Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus is a warm and magical origin story exploring the early years of Santa Claus and how he came to be, though for all its imagination and enchanting festive charm, it is a story that has sadly been overshadowed by the author’s rather more well known Oz novels.

Fast forward 120 years and the anticipated world premiere of a brand new musical adaptation of the book now takes to the stage in the wonderfully intimate setting of The Lowry’s Quays Theatre, ahead of a limited (and nearly sold out) Christmas season.

The story of Claus begins with the wood nymph Necile discovering an abandoned human baby in the magical Forest of Burzee. Necile convinces Master Woodsman AK and Queen Zurline to adopt the baby and raise him as her own, giving him the name Claus.

As Claus grows he soon discovers life outside the immortals of the forest and learns of the cruelty and suffering in the human world. Believing he can make a difference, Claus creates a new home in a nearby valley accompanied by his lioness guardian, Shiegra, and starts carving wooden toys to help bring happiness to the local children.

However, there are villainous Awgwas lurking in the woods – evil creatures and masters of disguise – who use their wicked influence to make children do bad things, and when they discover the joy Claus is bringing to the world, they do everything in their power to stop Claus and his benevolent ways.

Adapted for the stage by Simon Warne, and featuring music and lyrics by Andy Collyer, Claus The Musical is not so much a big show-stopping Christmas musical but a much gentler, more poignant story about the true meaning of Christmas, the bond between mother and child, and the importance of kindness, generosity and family above all.

Claus The Musical at The Lowry. Photo by Pamela Raith

Working with a top notch design team, director Kate Golledge brings Baum’s enchanted Burzee to life in a production bursting with heart, creativity and joyous stagecraft, incorporating slick, fluid choreography, traditional stage techniques such as shadow puppetry and traditional puppetry, and reminding us of the power of limitless theatrical imagination.

Even before the show begins, the company enter the auditorium and start to conjure a world of creativity and wonder simply with the use of bedsheets, broomsticks and bunting.

Musically, Collyer’s original score and songbook are beautiful. There are certainly hints of Sondheim and Schwartz in the mix (namely Into The Woods and Wicked, perhaps unsurprisingly given the Baum connection) but there are some really lovely songs and the show’s dynamic ensemble cast and live band do them real justice. It is no wonder producer Katy Lipson considers the musical such a special piece and credits Collyer’s score with inspiring her to form Aria Entertainment.

Heartwarming, poignant and with lots of fun moments exploring the importance of kindness, the origins of Christmas and the creation of many of the well established traditions we still have today, Claus The Musical is exactly the sort of warm, fuzzy, uplifting musical everyone really needs at this time of year.

PLEASE NOTE: This production uses haze but NO strobe lighting. Age Recommendation: 6+ year olds

Running Time: 2 hours and 5 minutes (approx.), including one 20-minute interval.

Final Performance at The Lowry, Salford Quays: Sunday 8th January 2023.

For more information, and to book tickets, please CLICK HERE.

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