“packed with real heart“
*** 3 Stars
After 904 days, since there initial rehearsals began, Edinburgh’s Bohemians Lyric Opera Company finally gets the curtain to rise on their production of Shrek the musical. Overcoming the obstacles of a global pandemic, cast changes and last minute stand in on both stage and orchestra pit alike, the company deliver a production with real heart.
Shrek the Musical with music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire. It is based on the 2001 DreamWorks Animation film Shrek, along with elements of its sequels: Shrek 2, Shrek Forever After and William Steig’s 1990 book Shrek!. Telling the story of one ogre’s awfully big adventure from the swamp to a princess’s castle and the quest for love and thwarting Lord Farquuad and featuring every childhood fairytale character come to life. It’s rich pickings for a company of this size.
Director Robert Need has put together a stellar principal cast with Andrew Gardiner as “Shrek” leading the company his performance is everything you can ask from a loveable ogre and more as he imbues Shrek with a wry sense of humour and spot on comedic timing. The same is true of Alex Singh as “Donkey” his take stays shy of emulating Eddie Murphy but he is clearly living his best life in the role that allows total freedom to play. Rachel Anderson as “Fiona” is pure class with a true musical theatre voice and an honest and aft emotional delivery of the role.
Dominic Lewis works hard spending the majority of the show on his knees as “Lord Farquuad” revelling in the evil character and giving it just enough camp edge to get the character well and truly over. Special mentions must go to Rebecca Drever as “Dragon” a west end worthy voice that belts to the rafters of the glorious King’s and Ross MacPherson as “Pinocchio” his display of a falsetto is faultless.
The 50 plus strong company deliver Fiona Jacksons Choreography in style and she makes the most of the large ensemble who look at home on the set by Proscenium Ltd and in costumes by That Looks Good which gives the show a look befitting any UK tour of the production. Add to the mix the wonderful pop score delivered by Finlay Turnbull’s 13 strong orchestra many of whom deserve special credit for standing in at the last moment and sight reading the score.
Sadly the company on stage were let down technically especially in the sound department, it was clear from the off that major mic problems were afoot. Even after a show stop too many mics either didn’t come on or cues missed and its credit to cast that those who knew there mics weren’t going to come on they raised their game and there projection to cover. Rebecca Clough’s lighting design delivered the right atmosphere but there were just one or two too many lingering moments in the darkness to cover set changes.
After a two and half year gap the Bohs deserved better from the technical elements and hopefully as the show beds into its run many of these will be solved. What the company do deliver is a production packed with real heart and showcases the team work involved in delivering a big musical. So well done the Bohemians and it’s not too late to grab a ticket and head to the swap and see if you too can be a believer!
Shrek the Musical, King’s Theatre Edinburgh, Runs until Saturday 19th March, for tickets go to: https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/shrek-the-musical