Shrek, The Musical Review

“The ensemble provide great fun throughout the show with some great singing, acting and dancing.”

Since Shrek started its previews I have heard mixed things about the cast. I had reservations myself partly due to knowing how good the ensemble were and in my opinion I thought many of them could do better than the leads. However, I cleared my mind of those thoughts and went to see the show.
A big-budget production of Shrek ran on Broadway for just over a year and then a scaled down version of the show toured North America. It is this version of the show that is now previewing at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Shrek is directed by Rob Ashford and Jason Moore. The book and lyrics are by David Lindsay-Abaire with music by Jeanine Tesori. The stage show follows the film very closely, with some of the lines the same. It follows Shrek (Nigel Lindsay), the grumpy ogre whose swamp is invaded by fairytale creatures. The fairytale creatures have been banished from Duloc by Lord Farquaad. Shrek goes to try to sort things out with Lord Farquaad so he can have his swamp back but ends up on a quest accompanied by a Donkey (Richard Blackwood) to rescue Princess Fiona (played by understudy Alice Fearn) from a tower guarded by a dragon (Landi Oshinowo). Shrek has to rescue Princess Fiona so she can marry Lord Farquaad. The humour in the show can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. During the show there are some references to other shows including Wicked, Les Miserables and The Lion King amongst others.
Nigel Lindsay as Shrek is a very good actor maintaining the Scottish accent Shrek is known for well throughout the show and even during songs. He is not the best singer, but this really doesn’t matter, as the strength of his acting makes the audience warm to the grumpy but loveable Shrek.  He was very funny, but could easily tug on the heartstrings by portraying the unexpected feelings and emotions that Shrek experiences. Amanda Holden had Britain’s Got Talent obligations so the role of Princess Fiona was played by the wonderful Alice Fearn. Alice has a beautiful voice and spot on comic timing. She was a very sarcastic Princess Fiona. Alice seemed very confident, like she had been doing the role for weeks when in fact, this is the first week she has been on, as the show is still in its preview periods. Alice’s chemistry with Nigel Lindsay was great, they both portrayed the change in relationship very well indeed. Nigel Harman as Lord Farquaad steals the show, performing on his knees! His singing is fantastic, but his comic timing and facial expressions were hilarious. All of his scenes and songs were a pleasure to watch. Nigel was full of energy.  Richard Blackwood was probably the weakest of the leads, but this probably has a lot to do with the character. It is inevitable that he is going to be compared to Eddie Murphy, who played Donkey in the film. However, Richard still did an okay job. He was funny and had some great lines.
With a cast of 37, I have to mention the fabulous ensemble, most of which I have seen in many other shows. The ensemble provide great fun throughout the show with some great singing, acting and dancing. Josh Prince did a fantastic job with the choreography. Many of the ensemble double up to play knights or fairytale creatures or even rats or blind mice. It really is a great show for an ensemble member. I have to mention some of the ensemble as I was just blown away by them. Jonathan Stewart as Pinocchio was superb. Incredibly funny.  Landi Oshinowo as the voice behind the dragon was stunning. She also doubles up as Humpty Dumpty in the fairytale scenes.  Lucie Downer as Baby Bear was very sweet. Jacqui Sanchez was on as Gingy, her vocals were great. She also played the Golden Goose in the fairytale scenes. The three little pigs played by Aaron Lee Lambert, Stuart Matthew Price and Dean Chisnall were very funny, my eyes were drawn to them. I also thought Lucy Tapp as the Wicked Witch was very charismatic.  The  Three Blind Mice played by Lucie Downer, Ashley E Hale and Michelle Francis were great dancers.  When the Dragon was on stage, it was operated by Jon-Scott Clark, Ste Clough, Damien Poole and Jonathan Stewart- they did a fabulous job at making the Dragon seem life like. A mention also has to go to Amy Beadel as Teen Fiona, whose vocals were fantastic during the song ‘I Know It’s Today’.
Shrek is not going to be to everyone’s tastes, although I certainly had a good time. There are some great comedic moments that really make you laugh out loud, particularly those coming from Nigel Harman. It’s a family show which does exactly what it sets out to do. I may revisit the show to see Amanda Holden as Princess Fiona.
The show I have reviewed was a preview performance. Some parts may significantly change before opening night on 14th June 2011.

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