Shrek – The Musical, Theatre Royal – Plymouth, 4****, Cormac Richards

PLYMOUTH & TOURING

THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH – 24 NOVEMBER

SHREK – THE MUSICAL by David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori

4****

RUNNING TIME 2 HOURS 30 MINUTES – 1 interval

Theatre Royal Plymouth Box Office – 01752 267222

www.theatreroyal.com

 

REVIEW – CORMAC RICHARDS – 14 NOVEMBER 2018

 

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Colourful, Funny Spectacular Entertainment

 

The incredible success of the 2001 film SHREK which spawned a number of sequels and spin-offs gave way to a stage musical which premiered in 2008 with a re-vamped version coming to London in 2011. It’s a real spectacular and thoroughly enjoyed by a packed house in Plymouth. It is really so good to see these large-scale shows in provincial theatres without holding back on the quality and production values.

 

This is a show which takes in the whole auditorium with the simple use of clever lighting and effects which play on the walls and the audience. The stage is as colourful as you could ever want to see. Excellent sets and effects provide a dazzling array as do the many, and brilliantly-designed, costumes. This is a feast for the eyes. The invention from the designers is first-rate and sets the bar so high.

 

The story of figures from fairy-tales calling on local ogre, Shrek, to help save them from the villainous Lord Farquaad by saving a Princess from imprisonment, is pitted with clever gags and witty dialogue. The huge array of characters is played by a relatively small cast who also manipulate several puppets not least the magnificently seductive dragon! The whole team work incredibly hard and have obviously been well drilled by the director of the tour, Nigel Harman, who gained great plaudits for his performance as Farquaad in the West End.

 

My one reservation for this super show is the music. There is very little that catches the ear. Nothing to go away humming with the exception of ‘I’m A Believer’ (courtesy of The Monkees – written in 1966 by Neil Diamond) which forms the highly entertaining finale – as it did in the film. So, this reviewer, at least, found the songs something of a let-down. They are well performed and staged, so this is no fault of the production; the writers have just not come up with the goods in this case.

 

As Shrek, Steffan Harri is endearing, funny and sings beautifully; he is full of character. Laura Main is the feisty Princess Fiona with a twinkle in her eye and a slightly naughty side – she too has a lovely voice. I am not sure that Marcus Ayton completely hit the mark as Donkey; funny enough and quite camp, but maybe could have gone further! Stealing the show was the vertically-challenged Lord Farquaad, played by Samuel Holmes; an actor I have been acquainted with and very impressed with before. Without giving too much away, the device used to create the short stature of the character works like a dream and Holmes does not spare the rod. Powerful of voice (speaking and acting) and blessed with a great face for comedy he milks everything he can from the part – a piece of comedy gold. Elsewhere, you cannot deny the cast work brilliantly hard whether playing a backing-group singer in the stocks, manipulating a talking gingerbread man, one of the three pigs or blind mice, as Pinocchio (complete with growing nose) or a member of the dancing doll troupe – all were excellent.

 

The band are full-voiced and the sound balance is bang on under the guidance of Colm O’Regan.

 

This tour is now in it’s 11th month, it has just two more venues to come, it is well worth making the effort to see it.

 

Sit back, relax and let your eyes feast on a splendidly inventive stage spectacular.

 

 

CREDITS

 

SHREK – STEFAN HARRI

PRINCESS FIONA – LAURA MAIN

LORD FARQUAAD – SAMUEL HOLMES

DONKEY – MARCUS AYTON

PIG – ADAM BAKER

WOLF – MICHAEL CAROLAN

PINOCCHIO – JOSEPH DOCKREE

PIED PIPER – WILL HAWKSWORTH

RED RIDING HOOD – SARAH-LOUISE JONES

PIG – REECE KERRIDGE

DRAGON – CHRISTINA MODESTOU

SUGAR PLUM FAIRY – JEMMA REVELL

PETER PAN – SAM STONES

PIG – ADAM TAYLOR

MAMA BEAR – JENNIFER TIERNEY

BABY BEAR – FRANCESCA WILLIAMS

WITCH – LAURA WILSON

PAPA BEAR – KEVIN YATES

SWINGS – ETHAN BRADSHAW, THOMAS-LEE KIDD, AMY OXLEY, SOPHIE WALLIS

 

BOOK & LYRICS  – DAVID LINDSAY-ABAIRE

MUSIC – JEANINE TESORI

 

DIRECTOR – NIGEL HARMAN

MUSICAL DIRECTOR – COLM O’REGAN

CHOREOGRAPHY – JOSH PRINCE

SET & COSTUME DESIGN – TIM HATLEY

LIGHTING DESIGN – HUGH VANSTONE

PROJECTION DESIGN – DUNCAN MCLEAN

SOUND DESIGN – AUTOGRAPH SOUND

 

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