A New York Theatre Guide to... Slava's Snowshow!
The Broadway return of Slava's Snowshow continues at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre through January 5, 2020.
Slava’s Snowshow has come a long way since its Moscow world premiere in 1993… literally! This Olivier Award-winning theatrical experience has entertained countless audiences across the globe for over a quarter-century, but it is the first time it’s been seen on Broadway since its Tony-nominated 2008 debut. The production began performances at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on November 11, 2019 and is scheduled to run through January 5, 2020. And in these wintry temperatures, what better way to warm the heart than to… Send in the Clowns?!
What’s it all about?
An enchanting mix of clowning and absurdism, Slava’s Snowshow is set in a surreal world where literally anything can and does happen. Whether it involves covering the entire audience in a gigantic web or releasing Broadway's biggest and most colorful, bouncing balls on top of their heads, the audience is as much a part of this show as the clown performers themselves. Without a single comprehensible word uttered, mini tales are told of life and the everyday in this strangely hypnotic world, culminating in the iconic snowstorm blizzard of a finale.
Who’s starring in it?
Russian performance artist Slava Polunin is the creator and star of this show, as well as the co-director, costume designer, co-set designer and co-sound designer. In other words, without Slava, there’d simply be no Slava’s Snowshow. But behind every great man is a small army of workers sharing the load and Slava has assembled a fine cast of clowns to… well, clown around with. These include Artem Zhimo, Robert Saralp, Vanya Polunin, Georgiy Deliyev, Aelita West, Bradford West, Alexandre Frish, Nikolai Terentiev, Francesco Bifano, Spencer Chandler and Elena Ushakova.
What’s special about this production?
Slava’s Snowshow redefined what mainstream theatre can be in the nineties and noughties, introducing a whole new audience to this surrealist art form. The dreamlike quality of the production is enhanced by its soundtrack of an original score from yesteryear, alongside the odd familiar piece of music like “Chariots of Fire” or “Mas Que Nada,” and although there is a clear structure to the proceedings, the biggest cheers of laughter are evoked from the audience when Slava & co. actually go off script. They are more than willing to halt the show and improvise if a member of the audience starts to laugh uncontrollably, for example. They are also more than willing to leave the stage and inspect that audience member more closely. In fact, if you’re sat in the orchestra, be ready for a whole lot of interaction. You may just get your head polished (particularly if you happen to be bald), get doused with water raining down from umbrellas, have a high-heeled shoe removed or have your belongings moved to a different part of the auditorium… all in good fun, of course.
Who would we recommend it to?
We recommend treating the kids to this one this holiday season. Slava’s Snowshow could offer your little ones a magical introduction to the weird and whacky wonderment that is live theatre, all the while with a winking eye directed to the parents in attendance. So, if you’re young or young at heart, try something a little different for the holidays. Slava certainly won’t let you down.
Slava's Snowshow Tickets are available now for performances through January 5, 2020.
(Header photo by Veronique Vial)