Dreamworks’ Shrek was hugely popular amongst our generation growing up, so I was very excited to have the opportunity to see the musical adaptation live on stage. Directed by Jason Moore and Rob Ashford, the London Production of the original Broadway musical delivered a feel-good, fun-filled and high energy performance that hooked the audience from the very beginning.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past 17 years, the plot follows an isolated ogre named Shrek, whose swamp becomes infested with fairy tale creatures after ruthless ruler Lord Farquaad banishes them out of the kingdom of Duloc. In return for his land to be left in peace, Shrek must embark upon a dangerous journey to rescue Princess Fiona, who is trapped in a tower guarded by a fire-breathing dragon. Shrek is, of course, accompanied by his noble stead Donkey for the ride.
“the musical version was updated to a 2018 audience”
Much of the storyline remains the same as the film, with some additions, such as the first scene of Shrek being sent away by his parents at the age of seven. I was delighted that the song ‘Welcome to Duloc’ was included, as well as all our favourite one-liners from the movie like ‘onions have layers’ and ‘that’ll do, Donkey, that’ll do’. There were also some noticeable omissions, for example the magic mirror and the fight scene with Robin Hood in the woods, however these did not detract from the performance.
In many ways the musical version was updated to a 2018 audience, with Lord Farquaad’s horse named Brexit, and his mention of having one billion followers on Twitter. Lord Farquaad, played by Samuel Holmes, was a hilarious villain, performing on his knees for the majority of the show with fake legs to accentuate his short stature. Special mention should also be given to Steffan Harri (Shrek) and Marcus Ayton (Donkey) who perfected the heroic duo audiences love so much and encapsulated their friendship with sincerity.
Capturing the magic of the film onstage is no easy task, but the cast and production team pulled this off flawlessly. The set design was amazing, with intricately made sliding sets and numerous swift scene changes to portray every element of the setting. The costumes were equally dazzling, making every character instantly recognisable. Additionally, there were some new characters, like Peter Pan and the three bears.
“the songs helped to amplify the emotions of the characters”
As a musical, undoubtedly the music played a huge role. I went into the performance not knowing any of the songs, yet I came out wanting to listen to the soundtrack again immediately. Although the lyrics were rather basic, the songs helped to amplify the emotions of the characters in heartfelt numbers like ‘When Words Fail’, and got the audience tapping their toes in upbeat songs such as ‘Freak Flag’. The vocal performances of all cast members should be highly commended, along with their ability to pull off the choreography simultaneously.
Closing the show with ‘I’m A Believer’ from the original film, the audience were left feeling nostalgic and joyous. Shrek The Musical is perfect for all ages; infectious, charming and enchanting, I would happily watch this musical over and over again. Catch it while you can at the wonderful Theatre Royal.
Featured Image Courtesy of Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall Official Facebook.
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