Shrek the Musical is a fairytale performance that will have you and your family crying with laughter!
You all know the story.
The DreamWorks 2001 blockbuster animation (yes it was that long ago) followed an unusual leading man, or should I say Ogre, called Shrek. You joined his quest to ‘get back his swamp’. *says in Scottish accent* But it quickly turned into a not-so-typical rescue mission as he was tasked with saving a feisty princess locked in a tower guarded by a sassy fire breathing Dragon.
The magical adventure was bursting with even more nontraditional characters. Along the way Shrek met an energetic talking Donkey, arrogant little Lord and a Gingerbread Man missing sweet and overdone on spice. All voiced by Hollywood celebrities of course.
So this Musical version had a lot to live up to… no pressure.
- Read my review from 2014: Shrek the Musical and why families should go
From Swamp to Stage
Shrek the Musical pretty much follows the original animation plot. To the point where you can mouth some of the most famous lines from the film. It’s a really comforting watch. This familiarity makes it a great show for children or the perfect Musical for any newbies to the genre.
The first thing that jumps out is the incredible set and costume design. The whole stage pops colour and energy. The characters are cartoonified to perfection. Instantly recognisable. The set that surrounds them is painted almost as if lifted straight from a story book. It is charming and child like. The fairytale land is truly immortalised on stage.
Leading Lady, Lord and Ogre
Steffan Harri plays Shrek with a nice amount of playfulness and ugliness. He is endearing to watch and immediately likeable but lacks a strong Scottish accent. It’s the most memorable characterisation of the Ogre and I’d of liked it to have been hammed up more.
I was blown away by the bipolar slant on Fiona last time I saw this show. However, Laura Main lacks the distinct personality of a damsel-not-so-in-distress-but-ever-so-slightly-unhinged. She plays an awkward tomboy and doesn’t quite hit the contrast of sharp and sweet on the head. That is where the funny lies in Fiona and it is lost.
Now, the real star is Samuel Holmes who plays Lord Farquaad. He steals every scene, every song and demands the audiences attention. Even when he is just a bystander in a moment. Holmes strides out on his knees, shaking his itty-biddy legs and knows exactly how to use them to his advantage. His exaggerated facial expressions and pompous voice only adds to the comedy spell he has the audience under. He may be small but he is mighty. Watch this Musical just for him. Seriously.
The Sound of Dulock
I do not find the songs memorable in the Musical. They are bouncy and high energy yes, but not enough to leave me humming. This production also re-staged my favourite number, ‘I know it’s today’. It’s usually performed with three Fiona’s who age to show the time locked in the tower. But in this version Fiona sings with a factory line of fairytale puppet princesses, and it just does not work.
I did however appreciate the Musical references injected into the sound, from Wicked to the Lion King, which you will have to keep an ear out for! You can also look forward to two of the most famous songs from the film. But I’ll let you guess which they are…
And the showstopper? The introduction of Dragon. Not only is the puppetry accurate from scale to design, her solo is powerful and punchy and generally awesome. It is a real highlight of the Musical.
Shrek the Musical may not match or beat the original animation, but that was never going to be the case really. It is an entertaining version with incredible production values and a whole lot of comedy gold (or green)
Do you like Shrek? Which two famous songs do think transfer to this Musical version?
Buy tickets today! It is on in Manchester until Sunday 28th January