Shrek the Musical is the perfect, feel-good family fun in the lead up to Christmas. Minus Amanda Holden, the cast does not lack in any way – with a fabulously camp donkey that captured the Eddie Murphy-style persona of the equally impressive film being a personal favourite. Also produced by DreamWorks, the show really took off in the second half, with an impressive cast – both vocally and in their ability to keep the audience laughing with a comedic style that managed to simultaneously entertain adults as well as children – and a fantastic array of costumes. Capturing you from the start with its visual display, Shrek wears a fantastically convincing mask, and Lord Farquaad’s shortened height is portrayed by a determined actor on his knees for around two hours, who wowed the audience in particular.
It’s similarity to the film was in a way disappointing as the storyline offered nothing very new, but the impressive skill of the actors to recreate the exact voices and personas of the well-loved movie meant the musical brought you right back into the drama and brought the characters, that had us in stitches in 2001, back to life. The involvement with the audience, however, gave it slightly panto undertones, but it undoubtedly remained professional and charming throughout.
Several other characters that proved entertaining, and perhaps not so well-remembered from the film, were the three pigs (with perfected, hilarious German accents) and the wolf, who sang about his troubles of being judged by the people of Du Loc as a ‘hot and tranny mess.’ Puss in Boots was for the most part missing from the show, but making up for it was the dragon – a gigantic recreation controlled by several people, capturing a wonderfully funny scene between her and Donkey, who was overwhelmed by her enormous and smoke (not fire) breathing presence. This was certainly better enjoyed on stage than in animation.
Highlight songs were ‘Big Bright Beautiful World,’ about the running theme of being true to yourself, a moving ‘Who I’d Be,’ and ‘I Know It’s Today,’ sung by three Fiona’s telling her story of growing up alone in the castle with only the desperate hope of being rescued by her one true love to keep her company. Although not offering a great deal of overly catchy lyrics, ‘I Think I Got You Beat’ was the most humorous of songs, with a brilliant scene between Shrek and the princess, being not-so-royal and more ogre-like, in a farting and burping competition. Yes, the humour is fairly childish at times, but the whole show has something for everyone to take away from it, and left the audience buzzing for more – until the whole cast reappeared for an encore of ‘I’m A Believer,’ as in the film’s karaoke ending.
Shrek the Musical is being performed throughout the Christmas period, tickets can be bought here.