Monday, 4 February 2013

Shrek the Musical Review

It seems all the latest musicals have cinematic roots. It was only a matter of time before the four part film franchise, Shrek, joined the growing list. We had high hopes for it; there is no doubt that the first two films in the series are superb, full of jokes for the little ones, witticisms for the parents, and an unlikely romance that will make you go all fuzzy inside, without being sickening or sentimental.

In the main, this has transposed well to the West End Stage. The fart jokes, larger-than-life costumes, and stylised set was in keeping with the look and tone of the animated films. The book by David Lindsay-Abaire includes all the best jokes of the film. No Shrek musical would have been complete without the ‘Ogres are like onions’ exchange and ‘You have slain the dragon?’; ‘Its on my To Do list!’

Unfortunately, we also think no Shrek musical would be complete without someone to equal Eddie Murphy, as Shrek’s talking sidekick, Donkey. Richard Blackwood delivers the same lines with tart humour. Though they earn a giggle, we can’t help thinking of the simultaneous roar and pathos with which Eddie Murphy’s Donkey was greeted in the cinema. On the other hand, Nigel Lindsay equals the superb Mike Myers as Shrek, spot on with the ogre’s gallows humour.

Generally, the plot well accommodates the additional ‘padding’ scenes. The expanded role of Lord Farquaad, in which we learn about his unfortunate upbringing, is inspired. Nigel Harman spends the all the time on his knees, with Farquaad’s pointless prosthetic legs dangling from his midriff, frequently exposing his tiny privates. The Pied Piper’s tap dancing rats are also a great touch, and definitely should have been in the originally film. The songs are catchy, childhood favourite material, especially the theme ‘Its a Big, Bright Beautiful World’ and the chorus song ‘Let Your Freak Flag Fly’, a great number with an important life message for children as well as an infectious tune.

There are some features (it would be a give away to say exactly what) which, while taking you by surprise, feel gimmicky to a lone adult viewer. However, the look of joy and surprise on each child’s face when they happen is enough to conclude they’re worth including. In the finale, when all the fairytale creatures climb aboard a massive wedding cake, you can’t but conclude that Shrek the Musical is a glorified pantomime. But its a bloody good one, perfect for family viewing.

Hurry up the show will be closing end of February!

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