Monday, 29 September 2014

Princess Fiona & Lucky the Leprechaun!

Yesterday I made my way to Duloc for another Shrek adventure. It will be my last for a couple of month's because I wont be able to make it over to Belfast or Dublin which are the next two destinations on the tour.

I was meant to be meeting Faye before the show as she had a train to catch afterwards and wouldn't have any time to stop and chat. However 3 month's on tour had caught up with princess Fiona and after an early start for an 11am matinee she soon became Sleeping Beauty.

Soon after I got to the stage door she messaged me to let me know she'd fallen asleep after her earlier performance and was currently on her way back to the theatre after dashing out to get some food.

As she approached the stage door she was attacked from behind by an onrushing donkey. He was lacking his usual fur and makeup but seemed as friendly and jovial as he does on stage.

We did have time for a brief chat and I was able to tell her how amazing I thought she was in last weeks Our Zoo. I also let her know that I've told everyone I know to make sure they're watching and to look out for Faye's character Frankie. Needless to say they were all genuinely impressed.

Starting today the cast actually get their first week off since the tour started back in July and Faye said they're all ready for a break. Travelling all over the country, living out of a suitcase and putting on eight incredible high energy shows every week is bound to take it's toll. That said, if they are tired, they certainly don't show it in their performance. They have been nothing short of outstanding everytime I've seen the show.

Faye has exciting plans for this coming week. I hope she has a great time and enjoys here well earned break. It's a bit hush hush so I can't say any more but if you follow Faye and Gareth on Twitter I'm sure all will be revealed shortly.

We also discussed the amazing view from Faye and Gareth's new apartment in London. As you can see from the picture above which Gareth tweeted last week, it really is spectacular.

Before she dashed off to get ready for the second show I was able to give her Lucky the Leprechaun. Thanks to Legally Blonde whenever I think of Ireland I think of Leprechauns so I purchased Lucky to take care of Faye when the Shrek tour visits Ireland.

After a quick hug I made my way round to the main entrance, collected my ticket and took my seat in Row F of the stalls.

Faye takes my breath away everytime I seen her perform and yesterday was no different. The best all round performer in musical theatre, period. Sensational acting, step perfect dancing and the most beautiful voice I've ever heard. It will be a travesty if she gives up singing completely to concentrate on TV, maybe they could sign her up for Nashville.

Below is another glowing review of this wonderful show. This one was written by James Hamilton for 'Impact Magazine'


Shrek the Musical is fun. Feeling rather optimistic about seeing the production it was refreshing to see such an innovative take on a film which was grounding breaking in both animation and child/adult comedy genres. The play does have flaws, but then when you are laughing uncontrollably it is unlikely those shadows will haunt your mind for long in this excellent performance.  

The story is essentially the film. The edits which are made do fit well, adding a focus to the ‘freaks’ and their freedom, both literally and metaphorically, and whilst the feeling of being yourself no matter what is nice, it does feel more catered towards the younger audience.

The music, however, does move heavily away from the film, a factor which has both pros and cons. For a film soundtrack which, perhaps surprisingly, was so popular when released certain people may feel an absence and disappointment that Shrek is singing a new power ballad rather than looking glum to the melancholic ‘Hallelujah’. But this flaw represents a poor attitude to take, as the music composed both fits more appropriately to the action and complements the comedy and superb singing skills. Moreover for those real diehard fans ‘I’m a Believer’ has a killer curtain call which will likely have the upper raptures toe-tapping and humming along.

But where the musical shines is design. Immediately you can tell that this performance has been moved from the West End because the overall technical aspect is fantastic. The set is polished and flows with a seamless ease, impressive from curtains open to curtains close. From swamp to castle, the ability to swap locations is practiced and brings refreshing colour to a period where plays rely so heavily on darker repertoires.

Furthermore costume is sublime. The characters are based on fairytale creatures after all, and thus offer a beautiful creative range which is explored to the maximum. Pinocchio, 3 Little Pigs and ogres all come to life on the stage and feel believable. But what is the most impressive element for me is the sheer ingenuity behind the designs, not merely relying on make-up or masks. The audience witnesses puppetry, ventriloquism and full body transformations to name but a few. Particular mention has to go to Lord Farquaad and the Gingerbread Man, whose whole characters are so well conceived and hilarious that they light up the stage with just their presence. Also the dragon is a sight to be seen. Fact.

The actors must also have credit where credit is due. Shrek and Fiona (Dean Chisnalland Faye Brookes respectively) were both impressive; humorous with the drop of lonesomeness which comes from their saddened existences. Both also pack a fierce punch vocally, Brookes clearly has the outline of a trained Broadway singer (easily projecting her voice into the power ballads of the higher register numbers).

Idriss Kargbo as Donkey definitely has the eccentricity of the role, although his annoyance did sometimes come across as being annoying annoying rather than funny annoying. This might be a result personally of searching for Eddie Murphy within the role (a flaw of a good film and not the actor himself). However the standout again comes in the role of Lord Farquaad played by Gerard Carey. For a man with a huge power complex, witty one-liners and huge potential for physical and gestural humour, Carey exhibits and uses the chances perfectly.

Shrek the Musical in a nutshell is the film. It uses lines, songs and jokes which for fans of the film is great, seeing as the film caters humour for such a wide range of audience. Whilst at times the play did feel it was dumbing down to child humour, it then sparked a glimpse of adult humour which lightens it up. Ultimately it is a play which does not take itself seriously – for the better. When a play can parody Les Miserables, Wicked and The Lion King along with itself, then it is a chance to experience a highly enjoyable and professional production.

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