Leeds Grand Theatre – until 6 January 2019
The green carpet was out for the press night of Shrek the Musical as it starts it Christmas residency in Leeds.
Shrek is a triumphant explosion of love and acceptance and reminds us that we should all let our freak flag fly very high.
Telling the story of Shrek the Ogre and his love for the beautiful Princess Fiona, who isn’t quite what she seems, has a likeable mixture of wit and humanity. At the beginning, we’re given a glimpse into Shrek’s past in a scene where his parents push him out of the house and into the big wide world – and all at the tender age of just 7. And the same goes for Fiona who is duly banished to live isolated in a tower by her parents. The story moves swiftly on to a time when Shrek is living alone in his swamp and a host of characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales fetch up at the swamp having been banished from their home town by Lord Farquaad. So, Shrek along with Donkey heads off to sort things out with Farquaad and ends up rescuing Fiona from her tower and from Dragon.
David Lindsay-Abaire’s book and lyrics have a welcome sense of mischief about them and Jeanine Tesori’s score has a bubblegum quality about it. With experience in the show Nigel Harman directs expertly and Tim Hatley’s set and costume designs are spectacular.
Steffan Harri is covered in padding and prosthetics to star as Shrek. Although very funny himself he was upstaged a few times by the delightful laugh of a small child in the audience. Laura Main looks much younger as Princess Fiona than when she is in Call The Midwife, and has a wonderful singing voice and legs that go on forever whilst tap dancing. Marcus Ayton is a fabulous Donkey, his facial expressions in some scene’s conveying far more than words. And Samuel Holmes is outstanding as Lord Farquaad – a little man who thinks he is big. I can only hope his knees have survived the tour and hope he gets a lot of pain relief, physio and massages to get him through. Special mention too to Christina Modestou who gives some stunning vocals to the Dragon.
Although brash, noisy and full of fart jokes, Shrek will undoubtedly appeal to adults as well as children and is the perfect family entertainment over the Christmas Season