Friday, 1 August 2014 Shrek Review

Firstly, don't forget that Faye will be at Toys 'R' Us in Leeds today from 4pm for 'Story time with Princess Fiona'. You'll also get the opportunity to have your picture taken with the most beautiful Princess in all the land.

This is a very special event and one I'd have loved to been able to attend because I know Faye will be a Shrek-tacular storyteller.

Now as I'm sure you're aware, Wednesday 30th July was the Shrek the Musical UK Tour press night at the Leeds Grand Theatre and countless glowing reviews of the show have already appeared online.

Needless to say they all loved Faye's performance as Princess Fiona and comment not just on her incredible vocals, superb expressive acting and step perfect dancing but also how she dealt seamlessly with a costume malfunction at the start of act 2.

I'm not going to feature every Shrek review as many are very similar but I will be adding a few to the blog over the coming days and weeks.

I'll start with this lovely piece written by Ali Turner for

Review: Shrek the Musical at Leeds Grand Theatre


By this point, everyone with kids (and to be honest, everyone with access to a television) has seen Shrek. It’s the box office hit that keeps giving, with film after film adorning our screens – but how does the fairytale translate on the stage?

It’s hard to imagine the DreamWorks animation on the stage – the film’s characters (and the actors who lent them their voices) are so iconic that even a small change seems unimaginable – it’s like seeing your favourite book made into a film. But the stage version doesn’t make a small change – it makes a big one.

Of course, it still has all your favourite characters. There’s Shrek, Princess Fiona and Donkey – and while they take a bit of getting used to in their new form, you’ll be every bit as besotted with them as the originals by the end of the show.

It’s the same story too. Shrek’s swamp is overrun with fairytale creatures and thus he sets off on a quest to rid himself of them, first by having a stern talk with Lord Farquaad, and then by rescuing the imprisoned princess. But like the ogre and the onion he compares himself to, Shrek the Musical has layers – and they go way beyond those of the animation.

Here, we learn how Shrek found himself alone in a swamp and how Fiona ended up locked up in a tower. But it’s Lord Farquaad’s lineage that really seals the deal, leaving the audience in hysterics, with applause before “The Ballad of Farquaad” is even through.

And that’s not the only time that Shrek the Musical veers off course. Some of the best scenes are those that you don’t see coming – a Riverdance-style ditty with suited and booted rats, a fairy tale uprising that encourages characters (and viewers) to embrace their individuality and a comical sing-off that ends in a burping competition.

These unexpected twists come with all new songs, which make up the bulk of the musical. In fact, the only song that you’ll really recognise from the film is “I’m a Believer” – which they save until last, by which point, the entire audience was on their feet for a well deserved standing ovation.

Admittedly, it took a while to get going. The grumpy ogre of the beginning is harder to love than the playful character he becomes once Donkey and Fiona are on the scene. And the lighthearted, adult focused jokes which make shows like this enjoyable for the parents as well as the kids, are a little light on the ground in the early stages. Once they get going though, you get a cross dressing wolf, a bipolar princess and a Lord who gives the name ‘Maximus’ new meaning.

Speaking of Farquaad, the pint-sized Lord is played by Gerard Carey, and inevitably becomes the highlight of the show. His legs, which of course aren’t his own (he spends the entire show on his knees with a pair of fake legs in tight gold leggings), are impossible to look away from, and absolute comedy gold.

Fiona, played by Faye Brookes, is also spectacular, not just vocally, but in her whole performance – she’s so expressive, so full of personality that you can’t help but warm to her.

She also proved, half way through the performance, that the show must go on, when a wardrobe malfunction left her without her skirt (don’t worry, she had sparkly hot pants from the previous number) – if we hadn’t seen the skirt hastily thrown off stage, we wouldn’t have known she was underdressed – she gave no sign.

Dean Chisnall makes an excellent Shrek – it’s hard to imagine what he must go through in that costume, it’s an active role and he has to suffer for it, but the finished product is impressive, a true ogre. It does, however, limit him somewhat, and you may find yourself more taken by Idriss Kargbo, who plays Donkey. Despite his costume, he’s surprising limber – he even does the splits in one particularly flamboyant number.

It’s the dragon though, that comes through as the unexpected star. With the voice of Candace Furbert and an incredible life-size puppet of the dragon controlled by no less than four people, it’s impressive to say the least – and the adults were as mesmerised as the kids.

Despite being a West End Production that’s no doubt accustomed to a larger stage, Shrek the Musical felt right at home in Leeds Grand Theatre. It had the same wow-factor that you’d expect from a London theatre – with bright colourful sets that brought the fairytale to life, and captured Fiona’s curse perfectly – ‘By night one way, by day another.’

They made the most of the space too, but we’ll leave you to find out what that means, because the beauty of Shrek the Musical lies in the surprises it holds – and we’re not giving anything away that would spoil that.

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