Monday, 28 July 2014

Leeds, Shrek & The Best Princess Fiona !!

I had to battle horrendous traffic on my 450 mile round trip to see Faye in one of her first performances as Princess Fiona in the Shrek the Musical UK Tour at the Leeds Grand Theatre. I encountered numerous delays - particularly on the return journey - & spent over 9 hours on the road but it was more than worth it to see Faye in her wonderful new role.

Thankfully despite the hold up's I arrived in plenty of time and was in my seat 10 rows from the front of the stalls with 15 minutes to spare.

They'll be many show reviews written by theatre critics over the next few weeks, many of which we'll feature here on the blog. I'm going to concentrate on Princess Fiona & Faye.

Fiona's story is bascically that of a Princess who at the age of 7 was locked away in a dragon gaurded tower to live in isolation until she was rescued by Prince Charming. She had also been cursed to live a double life, by day a beautiful Princess but by night an Ogre. Her Prince Charming turned out to be a big green ogre named Shrek but they still fall in love and eventually share a kiss which ends the curse. Though not as you may think ;)

As you may have guessed I'm a huge fan of Faye & could happily listen to her sing all day. I may be slightly biased but I was completely blown away by her performance & in my opinion Princess Fiona is involved in the 5 best songs in the show.

Although she is part of the 'Big Bright Beautiful World' opening, Princess Fiona's story really starts about 15 minutes in with her first song 'I Know It's Today'. This song actually features 3 Fiona's. The youngest has only been locked in the tower for 23 days & still wakes up each day expecting to be rescued. The next has been locked away for 958 days but is still sure Prince charming will slay the dragon & carry her to safety. The 3rd is a slightly bipolar Faye who has been locked away for 8423 days & is struggling to believe that all Princess fairy tales have a happy ending. Faye plays this perfectly everything from the singing to the facial expressions are staggeringly brilliant.

Faye is actually involved in about half of the shows 20 songs but I'm going to skip ahead to 'Morning Person'. This is soon after we find out that by night the Princess turns into an Ogre & Fiona is celebrating the start of a new day. This is most peoples favourite song of the show & I have to admit it's mine to. It's pretty much a solo number for Faye & she gets to showcase her fantastic singing, sensational dancing and brilliant acting in 10 wonderful minutes of on stage magic. In some ways this reminded me of 'What You Want' from Legally Blonde. I can't really explain why but I'm sure you'll see what I mean when you've had chance to see the show.

'Morning Person' is quickly followed by 'I Think I got You Beat'. This is another of my favourites & features Shrek & Princess Fiona arguing over which has had the harder life & ends in a farting contest. Honestly, it's hilarious and Faye's comedic acting is simply superb. You really HAVE to see it.

My 4th choice is 'This Is Our Story'. It's a happy ending song when Fiona & Shrek get together & realise they're perfect for each other. Again, Faye - dressed as an Ogre - performs this impeccably. Stupendously expressive, as she is throughout the entire show.

I couldn't finish without mentioning 'I'm a Believer'. It is primarily sung by Shrek, Fiona & Donkey but involves the whole cast & it's a fantastic end to a truly remarkable show. I can't wait to see it again when it lands in my home City of Bristol in about 3 weeks time.

I can't over emphasize just how much I enjoyed the show or how breath-takingly incredible Faye is in her new role. It's just perfect for her. Sometimes it's difficult to put into words just how special she is, just ask Shrek, When words fail . . . . .

After the show I had a lovely chat with Faye at the stage door. She was as adorable as ever & as you can see from the above picture, looking as beautiful as always.

She explained how she's having to readjust to being back on tour nearly 2 years after she hung up her blonde wig from Legally Blonde. Obviously it's more tiring than when you're based in one place & all the cast have been working extremely hard in ridiculously hot temperatures.

Her favourite song from the show is 'I Think I Got You Beat' & as I mentioned above it's definitely one of mine too. The performance of Dean Chisnall (Shrek) & Faye in this number is just sensational & had the whole audience in stitches.

We chatted a bit about press night, future tour destinations & her blossoming relationship with her very own Prince Charming Gareth Gates before I let her escape with her friends who had been waiting patiently nearby.

They'll be many reviews appearing online after this weeks official opening night but I'd question the sanity of any critic that doesn't say the Shrek the Musical UK Tour is a must see show for all the family & that Faye Brookes who plays Princess Fiona is one of the most accomplished young leading ladies they've ever had the good fortune to see perform.


Here is a great video previewing the show in Leeds & it includes a lovely little interview with Faye. Check it out:

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