Set in a mythical “once upon a time” sort of land, Shrek The Musical is the story of a hulking green ogre who, after being mocked and feared his entire life by anything that crossed his path, retreats to a green swamp to exist in happy isolation.
His peace is soon disturbed by homeless fairytale creatures who have been evicted by Lord Farquaad. Shrek strikes a deal with the Lord, agreeing to rescue a princess named Fiona in return of his peaceful swamp. With the help of his new trusty but very talkative companion Donkey, Shrek sets out on his mission.
Lord Farquaad’s torture of the gingerbread man gains him the location of Princess Fiona whom he wishes to marry to gain the crown and title of King. Easy enough for Shrek right? Wrong, Princess Fiona is guarded by a fire breathing dragon and locked away in the highest room of the highest tower.
When arriving at the tower Donkey is cornered by the dragon, in desperation, Donkey begins to turn on the charm toward the dragon who immediately falls head over heels for Donkey. Shrek finds Fiona awaiting her Prince Charming to come to her rescue in her room.
Appalled by the lack of romance, the dragon not being slain and Shrek not doing things how she expected them to be done, Fiona is less than impressed by the rescue.
Shrek and Donkey soon realise that Princess Fiona has a fiery temper to match her fiery hair and likes things to be done her way. But on the journey back to Duloc, Shrek and Fiona soon realise that they have very much in common. When the trio arrives they shelter for the night, Donkey hearing strange noises from where Fiona was sleeping, soon discovers that Fiona too, like Shrek, is an Ogre.
Adamant that she didn’t want Shrek to know, swears Donkey to secrecy and leaves with Lord Farquaad the next morning to get married in haste.
The next time Shrek and Fiona meet again is when Shrek, Donkey and Donkeys new love, the Dragon, crash the wedding. With Shrek declaring his love to Fiona and soon discovering that she too is an Orge.
I came to the show having high expectations having seen the movies and watching a musical version of Shrek before. Thankfully i can say STOS theatre company rendition of this classic was brilliant.
The show is packed with prosthetics and special effects and is executed perfectly, from the talking Gingerbread man, exploding bird, a real-life fire breathing dragon and the vertically challenged Lord Farquaad. Each one perfectly designed and played out. A personal favourite would have to be the puppet of the Dragon. Every feature looking just like the Dragon in the films. Her big bright eyes, her scales and her mouth moving perfectly in time with every word and lyric she sang.
The costumes throughout the show were bright, colourful and well done. Lord Farquaad had many costume changes, each one becoming more and more fabulous and dazzling as the show progressed.
This version of Shrek The Musical had many more magical creatures than other versions, with the costumes being a big deal with the audience trying to figure who was who in the magical world. Humpty Dumpty, Tinkerbell, Elf and the Mad Hatter all making appearances in the show just to name a few.
One of the stand out characters in the musical, as well as the movies, is of course Donkey. Loveable, sometimes annoying, talkative companion of Shrek. Damien Ross played the character outstandingly to the point where I thought I was sat listening to Eddie Murphy play Donkey instead of Damien. Damien never missed a step and every joke he delivered landed perfectly to many laughs and applause.
Mark Holmes and Sara Hibberd playing Shrek and Fiona was again another triumph for the production. The pair bounced off each other perfectly. You did believe that every emotion they portrayed to one and other was genuine, even if that was anger and competitiveness during ‘I think I’ve got you beat’ or admiration and love during the wedding scenes.
Another honourable mention would have to go to Cholwe Muntanga. Playing the role of the Dragon meaning that Cholwe wasn’t on stage, instead, lending her voice to the Dragon. Once Cholwe starting singing she took over the stage with her breathtaking vocals.
Overall a feel-good, uplifting musical that both adults and children alike can enjoy. There is so much humour in the show, some jokes aimed at the older audience that the children wouldn’t necessarily pick up on. The message throughout the show was that everyone should feel welcome wherever they go and no matter who they are. With the cast flying the LBGT flag in the show which I thought was a perfect touch and a very important message to convey.
STOS theatre company continues with Shrek at the Lyceum from 12th – 16th of November. You can buy tickets here.