Arts Reviews

“Encapsulates the Playful Essence of its Inspiration” – Theatre Review: Shrek the Musical @ Theatre Royal

Kayla Sibanda

Shrek the Musical is a perfect musical which encapsulates the playful essence of its inspiration, Shrek. When it comes to movies turned musicals, I’m often quite apprehensive, as a lot of the time they can feel like simpler retellings with the addition of an orchestra. This was not the case for Shrek the Musical. The musical tells the story we love and are all familiar with: the ogre Shrek navigating an unfriendly world as he tries to take back his swamp, with challenges along the way. Kayla Sibanda reviews.

The use of set design was truly exceptional. Projection was used which brought depth and realism to the stage, enchanting from the beginning of the show – when we first meet the younger Shrek (Anthony Lawrence) venturing out into the woods on his own – up until the very end. The use of projection was not the only reason I felt so drawn in to the story; a level of care was made to ensure that the set design perfectly encapsulated the memorable moments of the set from the movie, such as Shrek’s swamp.

Immediately, we are thrown into the fictional world of Shrek’s swamp where we meet the young version of Shrek. Projection is used to give the illusion of Shrek on a journey after being kicked out by his parents. I felt that this was executed very well. It doesn’t take long before we meet the adult Shrek: the one we are most familiar with. Lawrence brings out his sensitivity in his rendition of ‘Big Bright Beautiful World.’

What makes Shrek the Movie so memorable is the subtlety of its mature humour. Over the years, various compilations showcasing its elevated humour have permeated the internet. The humour in this musical was less subtle but certainly not lost.

Joanne Clifton (playing Fiona) […] successfully portrayed an elevated version of the archetypal damsel in distress

Brandon Lee Sears (playing Donkey) brought physical comedy and a boisterous playfulness that demanded an eruption of laughter. Other performers brought their own style of humour, including Joanne Clifton (playing Fiona) who successfully portrayed an elevated version of the archetypal damsel in distress that was funny, intelligent and independent. Listening to Clifton’s rendition of ‘Morning Person’, it felt impossible to not laugh and feel completely charmed by this princess we had only met about an hour ago.

Cherece Richards takes on the role of Dragon, exuding a sense of brilliance. She honestly blew me away with her wide-ranging vocal ability. Watching Richards, I was honestly so upset that her version of ‘Forever’ had not been uploaded online; if I could, I would’ve listened to it religiously after the musical. Richards fully convinced me that she, as a dragon, was desperately in love. One thing I will say is that it did feel as though her costume was not as well thought out as some of the other characters. However, this did not take away from Richards’ shining moments.

James Gillan brought his own type of sarcastic campness [to the role of Farquaad]

The characterisation of Lord Farquaad was quite different to the movie portrayal, which I honestly believe worked in his favour. James Gillan brought his own type of sarcastic campness. I feel that Gillan truly shone towards the second Act of the play when he had a lot more to play around with in the role.

A special mention must go to Georgie Buckland, a part of the ensemble, who also took on the role of the loveable Gingy. The ridiculous high-pitched accent was sustained throughout, which made me love the musical even more. Buckland’s singing abilities definitely met the same standard as her exceptional dancing abilities. Buckland brought belting and passion to ‘Freak the Flag’.

Another special mention from the ensemble must go to Jonathon David Dudley, who also took on the role as the stuck-up adviser. Dudley brought humour and flamboyance to this role, drawing me in, and I felt so excited when he appeared again in a speaking role.

The musical ended with a fun rendition of ‘I’m a Believer’ in which each member of the cast still brought their all. I had such a wonderful time watching Shrek the Musical – the cast was fantastic, as was every person who contributed to this musical to bring it alive.

Kayla Sibanda

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @shrek_uk via No changes were made to this image.

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