Book and Lyrics: David Lindsay-Abaire
Music: Jeanine Tesori
Tour Director: Nigel Harman
Musical Director: Dave Rose
Original Choreography: Josh Prince
Reviewer: Fiona Hannon
People of Sheffield booked their tickets to see Shrek – The Musical almost two years ago, and it was certainly worth the wait. This production is a complete joy from start to finish.
Anyone who is familiar with the Shrek films might reasonably expect the non-stop laughs, but what you might not be ready for is a perfectly formed piece of musical theatre. There is always the suspicion that musicals written on the back of an existing successful film franchise might somehow be a little lightweight, a little lacking in substance. Shrek – The Musical completely delivers on all fronts with wonderfully inventive staging, excellent performances from all and real heart at its centre.
The storyline essentially follows that of the original Shrek movie. Shrek’s swamp home is invaded by fairyland folk who have been evicted from Far Far Away by Lord Farquuad. In order to get his home back, Shrek agrees to rescue Princess Fiona so that she can marry Lord Farquuad, meeting a talking donkey and a dragon along the way.
This is a musical for the whole family. There are jokes for the children and for the adults – the funny stuff never ends, who knew laughing could be so exhausting? On the way out of the theatre, one little boy said that his favourite bit was when the bird blew up! For real musical theatre aficionados there are also lots of not-so-subtle nods to other great show-stopping moments. How many can you spot?
Jeanine Tesori’s score is modern, bright and upbeat with some genuinely tender moments. David Lindsay-Abaire’s lyrics are sharp and witty, especially in numbers like ‘I think I got you beat’.
This is a very strong cast. Dean Chisnall is perfectly at ease as Shrek with a glorious voice, and Faye Brookes as Princess Fiona is sharp and sassy giving as good as she gets all the way along. Equally at home with a Fosse-esque Broadway tap number (with the Pied Piper’s rats) as with the broad physical humour of the swamp.
Lord Farquaad played by Gerard Carey is wonderfully over the top with a never ending range of facial expressions and extracting every last drop of comedy from each scene. Idriss Kargbo as Donkey has a great voice and dance moves to match, providing a brilliantly hyper foil to grumpy downbeat Shrek.
The fairytale characters are always individuals, never blurring into a chorus line. Candace Furbert stands out with tremendous vocals as the voice of the dragon while Youngster Bethany Stenton shines as young Fiona and it is great to watch her seize this fabulous opportunity.
This is a huge production that completely fills the Lyceum stage, with great sets and special effects. Tim Hatley’s set, costumes and puppets are stunning with fantastic attention to detail; the dragon guarding Princess Fiona is truly spectacular.
The UK tour of Shrek – The Musical is West End class entertainment and fully deserves its five star rating.
Runs until: Saturday 7 June