Shrek The Musical, Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh Review:
**** 4 Stars
“Still a Believer”
DreamWorks smash hit animation Shrek stormed the west end with its brand of child friendly musical theatre fun and following a successful UK Tour in 2015 its back on the road for a brand-new adventure and spending the Christmas Season at the Playhouse.
With a book and lyrics by David Lindsay Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori the stage version doesn’t use any of the songs from the film (albeit one at the curtain call) instead writing songs around the story of the ogre’s (Steffan Harri) journey to rescue princess Fiona (Lauren Main) with a little help from Donkey (Marcus Ayton). At its heart this is a story about acceptance and not judging people on appearances which is a noble story to put across.
This production is really a tale of two halves, Act 1 sets the story at a fast paced, even with the addition of puppets replacing the kids, the slew of references to other musicals, i.e. Dreamgirls, Les Misérables and Lion King come thick and fast. It just feels as if the Cast are slightly going through the motions. The engagement never really comes across the footlights until a stunning rendition of “Who I’d Be” which ends act 1 and the three leads deliver this with sheer passion getting across the hopes and dreams felt by Shrek and his friends and ensures the show goes into the interval on a high note.
Act 2 truly see’s the production come alive, its as if the entire cast shift into high gear, especially Samuel Holmes brilliantly created and performed baddie “Lord Farquaad” who really gets to shine in his glory of being bad despite well being awfully short in stature. Director Nigel Harman really tightens his grip on the second act ensuring excellent pacing, big laughs and deftly working his cast ensuring it all builds to a wonderful big finale, if only that engagement from the cast had been there in Act 1 it would have delivered a far better overall production.
This is truly a musical that borrows heavily from pantomime including its wonderfully colorful set design from Tim Hatley that pulls you into the action in a beautiful way. Coupled with a plethora of costumes again by Hatley it really does have glitz and glamour befitting the Playhouse’s biggest production of the year, with such a fun and inventive score coupled with witty writing this production truly puts the best of the film on stage.
As the cast fire into “I’m a Believer” to bring the curtain down, you can be assured your ticket money has been well spent. If the cast can deliver the energy in Act 2 from the top of the show, then 5 stars is easily with in its grasp. As it stands for sheer magical fun, this Christmas “Shrek The Musical” is still one to believe in!
Dreamworks Theatricals Presents “Shrek The Musical”, Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh, Run’s until Sunday 7th January 2018 Tickets from £20 go to www.atgtickets.com/shows/shrek-the-musical/edinburgh-playhouse/