Believe all ‘ogre’ again with SHREK THE MUSICAL®. Following the unprecedented success of the first UK and Ireland tour, the original production team reunites to bring the hit musical to Milton Keynes Theatre until 6 August.
If you could ask the eight-year-old inside of you, that small child who loved fairy tales and happy ever afters, they would want to see this show. If you embrace your inner eight-year-old, this show is truly magical. The show is set around the story of the first Shrek film and starts with a ‘once upon a time’ from a book and the characters heads pop out of the book like it is a pop-up book!
Steffan Harri leads the cast as our beloved swamp-dwelling ogre, Shrek. He is funny and for an ogre, rather adorable. Steffan nails the Scottish accent and his range of emotions – after all ogres have layers. Steffan performs this role perfectly as if he just stepped out from the film. Princess Fiona is a sassy princess played by Laura Main and she gives a great balance about being a modern-day princess – day to day boredom of being locked in a tower against the romantic backdrop of being rescued. Everyone knows that a princess waits for a prince to rescue her – but during the song ‘I know it’s today’ you can see she is getting a bit frustrated with the waiting. This is a fabulous song and features Princess Fiona talking to her puppets for company. I also loved when she realises that her rescuer is on his way she tidies up, adjusts herself and then pretends to be asleep like Sleeping Beauty. Such great touches that add to the role and character. Laura also performs a fabulous dance number in the second act with rats including some tap. Absolutely outstanding performance by Laura who seems to have no end to her talents.
Every fairy-tale needs a baddie and Lord Farquaad fits the bill in Shrek. He is also very very funny. Played by Samuel Holmes, he gives such a funny performance that the whole audience was in stitches. His comic timing was spot on as he played to the audience for their reactions. There are lots of jokes about his height and the chorography has been tailored to make this even funnier. I did feel a bit sorry for his knees but a completely brilliant performance. Donkey is known for being a funny character and gets some great one-liners such as ‘I’m a GPS with fur’ when telling Shrek about directions to Duloc. Donkey is played by Marcus Ayton and was totally fabulous. I loved the slightly camp way he played Donkey – its better than any who have played Donkey before and gives the character an extra dimension to his character. Marcus rocked the number with the three blind mice – it was his time to shine and he certainly did. He could have been on stage doing River Deep Mountain High he was so funky!
Donkey’s first scene with the Dragon is another magical moment where the eight-year-old inside me gasped. The dragon is played with puppets but is so big it is breath-taking as was the dragon’s voice when she sang. What a cool funky dragon she is with a voice to die for. The cast are all exceptional and each one extremely talented. Each character is perfectly defined and obvious as to whom they are supposed to be. Pinocchio has the perfect voice to match his personality and his nose actually does get bigger! There is also Peter Pan, The Sugarplum Fairy, The Fairy Godmother, Red Riding Hood, The Three Bears, The Big Bad Wolf who actually likes to wear a dress and The Three Little (or not so little) Pigs. It’s all your childhood fairy-tales in one. Their interactions are also wonderful. The Three Bears are told to stand near Pinocchio. Too close. Too far. Just right. It’s these touches that give the show its magic. The songs are all original and written especially for the show. An audience pleaser is I Think I Got You Beat where Princess Fiona and Shrek are having a competition about who had the worst childhood. But my personal favourite is Let Your Freak Flag Fly, an empowering number which gives all the fairy-tale characters a chance to perform individually. It’s also a song with a moral and that moral is - be proud of who you are and don’t let others pull you down. What makes this show extra special is all the small extras. I love the nods to other musicals such as the nod to The Lion King, the Les Mis flag with Pinocchio’s face on it, Puss In Boots. It’s like someone has sprinkled magic fairy dust on the show.
This show has feel good all over it and it’s one of those rare opportunities to get the whole family together to share something special. Something they will remember and talk about in the years to come.
Shrek is currently playing at Milton Keynes Theatre until 6 August so there is still plenty of time to stand up and say ‘I’m a believer’.