Book and Lyrics: David Lindsay-Abaire
Music: Jeanine Tesori
Directors: Samuel Holmes and Nick Winston
The great big green ogre is back in Glasgow on the latest leg of the UK tour of Shrek: The Musical.
Based on the 2001 Dreamworks movie, in turn inspired by William Steig’s 1990, fantasy-comedy, picture book, this stage adaptation first appeared on Broadway in 2008. The show has successfully toured the UK since leaving the West End in 2013.
The storyline faithfully follows that of the movie with original songs by Jeanine Tesori interspersed throughout the action, rather than familiar pop standards. Tesori’s songs are sufficiently varied and pleasing to the ear, advancing the storyline effectively with many giving amusing nods to other Broadway big-hitters, Dreamgirls and Wicked to name a pair.
The show retains the warm-hearted, irreverent, celebratory tone of the movie, with the greater message of what really mattes is what’s in our hearts, remaining unchanged.
On being landed with the entire fairy tale population of Duloc on his doorstep after their eviction from the kingdom, Shrek embarks on a quest to get his land back. A deal is struck with the comically evil Lord Farquaad to find Princess Fiona so that Farquaad can marry her and fulfil his desire to be king of the castle. The path of true love is never simple and nothing is as it seems on the surface. Will everyone’s secrets be revealed? Will true love prevail?
Antony Lawrence is an amiable, engaging Shrek, landing his comic lines well and delivering the fart and belching antics on point, much to the delight of the tiniest audience members. Stand-out though is Joanne Clifton’s Princess Fiona, as well as the world champion standard dancing, Clifton has an impressive voice and is a fine comic actress. Shrek’s infamous and unwanted side kick donkey is ably played by Brandon Lee Sears. A change from previous productions is the decision to play Farquaad as an average sized person rather than the diminutive characterisation in the movie and previous tours. While James Gillan gives it plenty of camp, it does render the size-jokes utterly redundant. It doesn’t deliver the tear-inducing laughs it has previously.
The supporting cast are universally excellent, the energy levels and commitment to their roles unwavering throughout. Another knock-out is Cherece Richards whose vocals as the Dragon are goose bump-inducing.
If it’s a heart-warming night of non-stop entertainment you are after for all the family, then look no further.
Runs until 20 January 2024 and continues touring | Image: Contributed