Shrek The Musical – The Grand, Leeds
Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East
Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire
Music: Jeanine Tesori
Lyrics: David Lindsay-Abaire
Director: Nigel Harman
After a Wickedly triumphant run of a previous west end musical, Leeds Grand leaves down the green carpet to welcome in Shrek The Musical on the first leg of its first UK tour.
If you don’t know the story of Shrek the green ogre, then maybe you too live in a swamp. But if you did miss the Drury Lane show or any of the films then here’s a quick recap. After the fairy tale folk of Dulac get evicted to his swamp; Shrek, aided and hindered by Donkey, head off to rescue a princess from her dragon-guarded tower in order to hand her over to the short-statured Lord Farquaad, so he will hand over the deed to Shrek’s beloved swamp. Lord Farquaad wants to marry the princess so he can become a King.
There is something for everyone in this show. The young ones can be captivated by the fairy tale and with its pantomime-esque innuendo’s for the adults, its proper family entertainment. There are a lot of fart jokes and a burping contest that would put many a teenage boy to shame.
The joy of the show is that with the longer time allowed you can actually see into the backgrounds of the characters. Both Shrek and Fiona were banished from home at the age of 7. They might sing it’s a ‘Big Bright Beautiful World’ but the lyrics of ‘Who I’d Be’ are heart breaking and tender and portray the true feelings of what an Ogre would like to be.
Dean Chisnall recreates his lovable West End tartan trousered Ogre who your heart goes out to at the idea of him losing his love. Idriss Kargbo captures the Eddie Murphy magic with his Donkey and Faye Brookes is a spirited, but kind Fiona.
And in what other show would you find tap dancing rats? Vegas showgirl blind mice? And a whole host of others letting their ‘Freak Flag’ fly. There are many coded references to other shows, and other fairy tales are the butt of many of the jokes.
There are two stand out performances in this brilliant show. Gerard Carey as Lord Farquaad is hilarious. How his knees will survive this tour is not clear, but he can share tips with the original actor, Nigel Harman, who is directing this version on the road. Playing him as a camp Richard III type in yellow tights, he steals the show. Managing to high kick his tiny legs, over compensating for the fact his dad was a grumpy diamond miner who abandoned him in the forest to fend for himself.
The other star of the show is Dragon, which has a War Horse feel of puppetry about it, as you don’t notice the puppeteers. Candace Furbert who voices Dragon provides the most amazing vocals, and is a mega star in the making with a voice of pure diamonds.
This show has it all a once upon a time and a happy ever after. Full of singing, dancing, nonsense and strangely believable characters it’s a show the entire family can enjoy from baby through to granny. Give the kids and yourself a summer holiday treat and bring them to the Grand for two and a half hours of good solid family fun.