Shrek the Musical Review

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.

A Murder is Announced Review

A Murder is Announced – Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East


Writer: Agatha Christie
Adaptation: Leslie Darbon
Director: Philip Stewart

Set in 1950, we arrive at the home of Letitia Blacklock (Jo Castleton) on Friday the 13th to the announcement in the Chipping Cleghorn Gazette that “A Murder is Announced”. The murder is due to take place at 6.30pm at Little Paddocks that very evening. Taking care to prepare food for the villagers who are bound to just ‘drop in’, neighbours gather at 6.30pm and the scene is set for the imminent murder.

This should be a wonderful introduction to an ingenious spider’s web of deceit and plot twists. Just when you think you’ve cracked it, there is another startling revelation added to turn the plot on its head. Sadly, explanation too often gets in the way of dramatic tension and there were forced efforts to get through as much dialogue as possible to clarify the narrative.

The subsequent investigation by Inspector Craddock (John Hester) reveals subtle clues and slips of the tongue throughout the performance give hints that should be picked up, if attention is paid to all the dialogue throughout.

There are some horrendous caricatures of 1950’s middle classes, but thankfully some shining stars too. Jane Shakespeare’s glorious overacting as Middle Eastern maid Mitzi was fabulous and Louise Jameson’s interpretation of Jane Marple was interesting, although, it is hard to suspend the disbelief to imagine youthful and glamorous Jameson as an elderly spinster.

Any devotees of Agatha Christies intricately plotted books or the classic BBC adaptations starring Joan Hickson as Miss Marple might want to avoid the Civic this week. This version is at best confusing when following the twists and turns of the plot and sadly doesn’t convey this classic Agatha Christie whodunit at its best.