Based on the hit 2001 Academy Award-winning animated movie, Shrek The Musical may not be far, far away from the original ‘anti-fairy tale’ – but this stage production just doesn’t deliver the same magic that it once did on the big screen.
Whilst not sticking strictly to the original script, Shrek The Musical follows the alternative fairy tale of Shrek the ogre as he seeks to get his swamp back from the wicked Lord Farquaad by rescuing a less than orthodox princess from a dragon guarded castle.
And unlike the movie, which boasts songs by Leonard Cohen and The Proclaimers, Shrek The Musical features predominantly original songs. Although delivered brilliantly by musical director Colm O’Reagan and his orchestra, the musical numbers fall disappointingly flat, with the audience appearing uninterested and unmotivated to get involved.
Steffan Harri (Shrek) gives a strong performance particularly in vocal numbers though. His choice of character was less volatile than that of our beloved green ogre from the movie, and this led to some scenes being slightly underwhelming. Princess Fiona (Laura Main) was equally as uninspiring. Shrek’s sassy sidekick Donkey (played by Marcus Ayton) provided plenty of laughs, however, and never strayed too far from Eddie Murphy’s original incarnation of the wise-cracking, talking donkey.
The standout performance in Shrek The Musical was by Samuel Holmes as Lord Farquaad. His brilliant command of physical comedy meant that his every movement had the audience in stitches. Samuel spent the entire show on his knees with a small set of fabric legs rendering him three foot tall. Visually, this was hilarious and in every scene it was the gift that kept on giving. In addition to his execution of Lord Farquaad, Holmes’ portrayal of the Lord was consistently brilliant through song and dance.
The supporting cast – which included the Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, Peter Pan and the Pied Piper – were all excellent. And, as fans of the original movie would expect, Pinocchio and Gingerbread Man were two stars of the show. Although the chemistry between all the characters felt a little forced at times, overall their great comedic performances were a delight to watch and laugh along with.
Fairy tale creatures aside, the real star of Shrek The Musical goes to the production team. The dynamic and creative set, stunning makeup and costumes, use of projection trickery, and some awe-inspiring props (in particular a near as life soul-singing dragon) makes Shrek The Musical a visually impressive production that the whole family will enjoy.
Words: Aimee Stanton