Fun for all the family, but will leave theatre regulars disappointed.
Based on the 2001 DreamWorks Animation film, Shrek The Musical kicks off a summer of musicals at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre. Despite being a family favourite film with numerous sequels, the transition from the big screen to the big stage was perhaps an unnecessary one.
Following a run in London’s West End, the show tells the tale of the titular swamp-dwelling ogre, who embarks on a quest to rescue the Princess Fiona. The show also features a cast containing a gang of fairy-tale misfits, complete with a fire-breathing dragon controlled by several puppeteers. Importantly though, the musical is not a mere imitation of the Oscar winning film, as it features previously unknown elements, such as Shrek and Fiona’s childhoods, the short truth about Lord Farquaad and the stories of the fairy tale cameos
Despite this, it was clear that the performers were trying to interpret the lines in their own style and manner. Yet it was impossible not to draw comparisons to the vocal performances by Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy, who with their comedic prowess, created the characters of Shrek and Donkey so wonderfully in the films.
With this in mind, the majority of the actors failed to meet the pre-conceived expectations of the characters portrayed in the film. The exception lies with Gerard Carey, who spent the entire show on his knees in order to portray the role of the vertically challenged Lord Farquaad. Carey excelled the character beyond that of the film, and with miniature prosthetic legs, innovative choreography and superb characterisation, he ensured visual and comedic hilarity.
Praise must also go to the make-up and wardrobe departments. With an entire family of ogres in padded suits and green prosthetic face masks, as well as chorus numbers which were a sensory delight, with an array of colourful clothing, it is no surprised that the 2008 Broadway production won a Tony Award for its costume design.
Leaving a theatre, it is usually expected for songs to resonate in your mind for days afterwards, often to much annoyance. You’ll find yourself singing a rising anthem in the shower or humming melodies while stuck in traffic. Yet with Shrek the Musical, such theatrical norms fail to occur, due to a soundtrack which is entirely forgettable. This is a real shame as the numbers are so crucial to a musical’s longevity and overall success. Although a finale of the Monkees ‘I’m A Believer’ saw the audience clapping and singing along in high spirits.
Shrek The Musical won’t exactly make you live happily ever after, but it has plenty of laughs and satire for the adults, and more importantly, plenty of fart gags for the children.
Shrek The Musical is at the Mayflower Theatre until 26th July. Tickets are priced between £21.00 to £52.50 and can be purchased here.