Carlton Operatic Society’s production of Shrek The Musical is an all-singing, all-dancing comedy adaptation from Dreamwork’s Shrek. Nottingham Theatre Royal was buzzing with excitement before the spectacular show, and it certainly did not disappoint. Izzy Hunter reviews.
Having seen the West End production nearly 10 years ago, I entered the theatre with some expectations about how the night would pan out, but I was blown away by the professionalism of Carlton Operatic Society. The similarities between the West End and Broadway production (as seen on Netflix) struck me, particularly the set (Scenic Projects) and costume design (Jules Sheppard). However, what I loved, was being able to view the production from an adult’s perspective.
This musical is clearly a family show, showcasing hilarious songs between Shrek (Chris Wilson) and Fiona (Charlotte Barrington), with jokes aimed at a younger audience, but there were smaller details that only the adults would notice. The references back to other musical theatre productions sparked my inner theatre-kid, especially during Freak Flag, when a flag was waved behind the cast featuring Pinocchio as Cosette from Les Misérables. Other references included Lord Farquaad (Graham Ward) singing Wicked during What’s Up, Duloc?
On the topic of Ward’s portrayal of Lord Farquaad, he executed each line perfectly that had a slick comedic timing, leaving the audience in fits of laughter. The running joke about Farquaad’s height was hilarious, particularly when Ward stood up to ‘jump’ across the stage. Furthermore, Bara Erhayiem as Pinocchio stood out to me, as his vocals and tone of voice matched the energy of Pinocchio from the original productions incredibly.
Sparks (literally) flew
The set design and lighting kept the performance alive, with surprises around every corner. A memorable moment was the Dragon’s (Ella Greenwood) song; pink lighting flooded the stage, reflecting her hot pink scales and fluttering eyelashes. Greenwood’s vocals for the Dragon were astonishing during Forever; the relationship between Donkey (Mark Coffey-Bainbridge), and Dragon translated from screen to stage very well. Sparks (literally) flew as pyrotechnics ended the song on a bang, lighting up the stage and crowd alike.
Who I’d Be before the interval, was a particularly heartfelt moment
Finally, of course we had our stars of the show, Shrek and Fiona. Charlotte Barrington’s depiction of Fiona was sassy and independent, and a moment that particularly stood out to me was the tap dance sequence with the Pied Piper (David Birt) and the rats. As a former tap dancer, I thoroughly enjoyed the ode to musical theatre through the ages in this Broadway inspired scene, and felt like it fit the sense of the production very well, without breaking up the scenes. And of course, Chris Wilson as Shrek himself offered a very engaging performance throughout, with strong vocals that carried the show. Who I’d Be before the interval, was a particularly heartfelt moment for his character, leaving us with a beautiful blend of voices from Wilson, Barrington, and Coffey-Bainbridge.
What I took away from this performance was just how much fun the cast were having onstage. It’s clear the show meant a lot to them, and that translated enormously towards to the audience. By the end, we were all up and dancing to the classic I’m a Believer, as the performance finished on the well-known happy ending. Overall, Shrek The Musical was a brilliantly entertaining production that left me crying with laughter, enjoyable for all ages. I would highly recommend seeing this performance at the Nottingham Theatre Royal for a great night out!
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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