Book and Lyrics: David Lindsay-Abaire
Music: Jeanine Tesori
Tour Director: Nigel Harman
Reviewer: Beth Steer
Based on DreamWorks’ 2001 block-buster animation, Shrek the Musical is pitted as an ‘all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza’ that makes for the perfect family show for Christmas.
Shrek follows the adventures of a famously green, infamously ugly ogre – who makes a most loveable, if unlikely, hero – and his noble steed Donkey, as they attempt to rescue the imprisoned Princess Fiona from her dragon-guarded tower. This is no ordinary fairy tale rescue mission, however, in which the prince seeks out the princess in the name of true love; rather, Shrek wants to rescue his homeland – his beloved, stinky swamp – from the swathe of misfit fairy tale characters that have been banished there by the elitist Lord Farquaad.
Encountering an array of colourful characters – and a particularly aggressive biscuit – along the way, Shrek, Donkey and Fiona embark upon an adventure that twists and revisits the classic fairy tale narrative, all to the tune of much enthusiastic singing, dancing and ogre-ly behaviour.
With a very talented cast and some excellent choreography, staging and costume design, the stage production brings to life the much-loved DreamWorks animation. Dean Chisnall as Shrek is big, booming and larger than life, providing an excellent vocal performance. Bronté Barbé’s performance as Fiona is equally entertaining, and Idriss Kargbo as Donkey is witty and sassy, with well-timed delivery of funny one-liners.
The ragged bunch of fairy tale characters – Red Riding Hood, the Three Bears and the Fairy Godmother in particular – make up a brilliant and humorous ensemble, and there is an impressive level of detail in their costumes and choreography.
The star of the show is undoubtedly the diminutive Lord Farquaad – played by an exceptionally talented Gerard Carey, entirely on his knees – whose tongue-in-cheek performance elicits a laugh a minute from the audience and injects an adult level of humour in the otherwise predominantly family-oriented play.
The set design, staging and props too, deserve a mention – especially the masterful and beautifully designed puppet which serves as the love-sick Dragon, manned by four skilled puppeteers who really bring the character to life.
The songs are entertaining and have the audience singing along, particularly at the end with the whole cast rendition of the famous I’m a Believer; Shrek the Musical is one to watch this Christmas.
Runs until 10 January 2016 |Image: Helen Maybanks