Theatre Review: SHREK: THE MUSICAL – Palace Theatre, Manchester

Steffan Harri as Shrek and Laura Main as Princess Fiona in SHREK THE MUSICAL UK Tour

Big, bold and colourful – just like the green man himself – SHREK: THE MUSICAL is a modern day fairy tale like no other

Forget Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty or Little Red Riding Hood, ask any child what their favourite fairy tale is and chances are Shrek will feature. Since the release of the DreamWorks animation film in 2001, SHREK has taken the world by storm, resulting in three film sequels as well as a musical stage adaption which is currently on tour across the UK and Ireland.

Based on the characters and story from the Oscar-winning film, SHREK THE MUSICAL tells the story of Shrek, a big, green-skinned, Scottish-voiced ogre whose swamp has been invaded by fairy tale creatures. In order to get his quiet life back, Shrek agrees to rescue the beautiful Princess Fiona from a high tower guarded by a fire breathing, love-sick dragon so that Lord Farquaad can marry her. Will Shrek and his loyal steed Donkey succeed and bring back the princess or will the dangerous journey put an end to the unlikely hero and his companion?

Big, bold and colourful – just like the big green man himself – SHREK: THE MUSICAL is a modern day fairy tale like no other. From Tim Hatley’s cartoon-style set and innovative costume design, to David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori’s catchy and witty score, every inch of this production boasts all the fun and humour of the original film. Add in a spectacular singing dragon, a dramatic stop-the-wedding final scene and a heroine who finally finds happiness as a chubby ogress and you have an all-singing, all-dancing musical hit on your hands.

Steffan Harri delivers a strong performance in the role of Shrek, showing a different side to the ogre we all know and love. Laura Main of CALL THE MIDWIFE fame also ticks all the boxes as Princess Fiona, although the love scenes between her and Shrek do feel a little forced at times.

Samuel Holmes as Lord Farquaad in SHREK THE MUSICAL UK Tour

Elsewhere, Marcus Ayton is hilarious as Shrek’s goofy companion Donkey, bringing his own spin on the character originated in the film by Eddie Murphy. But it is Samuel Holmes who steals the show as the vertically challenged Lord Farquaad, his posh accent, quick humour and stage presence, delivering the biggest laughs in the show.

Yet, while Nigel Harman’s touring production of SHREK entertains for the most part, the lack of any real storyline means there is a lot of padding in the show, with some of the musical numbers simply existing to fill time. The slick, Broadway-style nature of the show also takes away the emotional depth of the piece, which is really needed to make the love story between Shrek and Fiona believable.

That said, you can’t fail to be impressed by the sheer inventiveness of the show and its cheeky humour keeps the energy and the entertainment high. If you’re a fan of the original film, you’re sure to enjoy SHREK: THE MUSICAL.

4 out of 5 stars

SHREK: THE MUSICAL runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester until 28 January 2018.