Touring – reviewed at Milton Keynes Theatre, London
Shrek is one of my all-time favourite animated films, the sheer hilarity of the fairy-tale mickey taking ticks the box and the musical stage version is no different. With a few tongue-in-cheek nods to other musicals such as Gypsy, Wicked and Les Miserables for good measure, this show has it all – outrageous comedy moments, catchy songs and a cast de force. It comes as no surprise that Nigel Harman (who created the role of Lord Farquaad in the show’s Eest End debut) has directed this hit, what a superb job he’s done.
The stage incarnation doesn’t differ too widely from the movie, in fact it offers some of Shrek’s back-story which synchronises with Princess Fiona’s in a back-handed destiny kind of way. All of the jaded fairy tale characters are there too, from the Big Bad Wolf dressed as Grandma to a depressed Pinocchio to the Gingerbread Man. They’ve been kicked out of their homes by the dastardly Lord Farquaad and they’re heading in the direction of Shrek’s swamp. Outraged at the idea of sharing his home, Shrek embarks upon a journey to seek out Lord Farquaad and re-home the fairy tale rejects. Along the way he meets the talking Donkey, who becomes his insistent side-kick throughout. Subsequently, Shrek becomes a reluctant hero when he rescues the secretive Princess Fiona from a tower guarded by a love-struck Dragon (a sight to behold).
Steffan Harri plays the over-sized green loveable Ogre and he is outstanding in the role, from the Scottish accent to amazing vocal ability. The chemistry with Laura Main as Princess Fiona is also palpable and in case any Call The Midwife fans are wondering, she is an exceptional Princess Fiona. Her singing voice is pitch perfect and she showcases herself wonderfully as a triple threat.
Marcus Ayton shines as Donkey, he gives Eddie Murphy (who voices the character in the movie) a run for his money. Samuel Holmes as Lord Farquaad steals all of the scenes he appears in, he’s on his knees for a start off – to achieve the under-sized stature. Add a bit of razzmatazz and his musical numbers are comedy gold. Lucinda Shaw is awe-inspiring as the Dragon, the sheer power of her vocals continues to resonate. Comic timing is one of the many strengths of the multi-talented cast and I include the brilliant ensemble in that. Every performer is going above and beyond to re-create well-loved movie and they should all be proud of the ‘job’ they’re doing.
The songs in the show punctuate the story brilliantly, ‘I Know It’s Today’ was one of my favourite numbers performed by Princess Fiona, together with a selection of Princess puppets. She also has a show-stopping scene with the song ‘Morning Person’. ‘Big Bright Beautiful World’ epitomises the heart of the tale and ‘Freak Flag’ provides the ensemble with a fantastic opportunity to take the helm. The whole soundtrack is toe-tapping, engaging and memorable though.
The set captures the essence of the film and moves seamlessly with the action. The choreography is also notable, it’s fairly uncomplicated to allow for cumbersome (and stunning!) costumes, yet it’s effective and eye-catching. Congratulations to Choreographer, Josh Prince and Assistant Choreographer, Jacqui Sanchez.
Miss this show and you’ll miss out, it’s the ultimate feel-good musical and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It was also the first full length musical we had taken our junior reviewer to, and at just 4 years of age it was a risk, however it was a risk worth taking as he was captivated. Therefore, I say with confidence that Shrek the Musical is a show for all the family.
Book your tickets here: Shrek The Musical Tickets
Photo credits: Shrek the Musical website