Shrek The Musical Review By Lynn Carroll

August 30, 2023

You know that half awake moment before you fully come to in the morning? Well, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had somehow been transported to the West End the night before. Why? Because I had, in truth, travelled just a couple of miles to my local theatre and seen a West End show.

Of course, Shrek did play in the West End, opening in 2011 and boasting a cast which has included Amanda Holden as Princess Fiona, Nigel Harman as Lord Farquaad and Richard Blackwood as the beloved Donkey. However, I can’t imagine any of the cast at the Cliffs last night was any less magnificent in the roles they played. Personally I was not familiar with any cast member but they all had a stream of theatre and television credits to their names.

From the opening scene to the finale I was transported to a magical experience of dazzling costumes, exciting special effects, laugh out loud moments (some directed specifically to the children but equally enjoyed by the adults) and a performance I can only guess was as close to the West End show as it could possibly be.

Antony Lawrence as Shrek, totally believable as the lonesome swamp dweller who, in an effort to rid himself of the fairytale characters invading his home, goes on a mission to rescue Princess Fiona. How on earth he coped with the make-up and padded costume yet still bounced, danced and sang his way around the stage was a mystery to me. And that goes for most of the cast who performed in the heavier costumes.

Princess Fiona brought to life by Imogen Bailey (the understudy I might add), did not put a foot wrong and the interaction with Shrek was a joy to behold, as was the pairing of Shrek and Donkey. Move over Eddie Murphy you have a serious rival in Brandon Lee Sears who put his heart and soul into his performance, seemingly unencumbered by his Donkey costume.

Of course, all shows of this genre need a villain and sometimes less is more. Comedic villainy certainly fitted the bill and Lord Farquaad, played by James Gillan, more than suited the part. His conversation with a puppet gingerbread man on the rack in the dungeon was comedy perfection.

The rest of the cast members were all equally excellent in their roles but are too numerous to mention individually. Most played multiple roles, which could not have been easy considering the complexity of the costumes and timings. But who knew? The audience certainly didn’t, they were all amazing and even adults could not fail to have been delighted by these fairytale characters come to life.

But for me, the special effects were the icing on the cake. In this production there was no background shuffling of props whilst the story was being played out. I don’t know how to describe what I saw but it was all clever stuff! Projections on to screens behind the characters gave the impression of falling leaves, distance walking and even crossing a lava filled moat to reach the tower, which was also climbed with the help of these effects……magnificent.

If you are thinking of going to see Shrek, don’t think, do! A final treat for the children before they go back to school, a birthday treat for friend or family or just for the joy of it. You will not regret it. The strangers in the seats alongside me were also amazed and delighted by this spectacle and our conversation held nothing but praise for every aspect of it.

This was a night I shall remember for a very long time.


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