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Shrek the Musical – Bristol Hippodrome REVIEW

Shrek is a cult classic. Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz triumphed in the 2001 Dreamworks animation but does the stage production live up to expectations?

This was a show of two halves. The first act stuck almost word for word to the film, attempting to recreate the film and, if i’m honest, sort of failing. You cannot match Myers and Murphy for their delivery of their lines, nobody can. So you might as well try and do it slightly differently.

However I realise that if they mixed it up a bit and didn’t put in the classic moments, you may have some die hard Shrek memorabilia wearing fans attacking you and your show.

But as I said it was a show of two halves and the second half veered slightly from the plot, exploring new and imaginative concepts such as Lord Farquaad’s dad and furthering the relationship between Shrek and Fiona… and this was fantastic. It was the exciting and hilarious lift the show needed and contrasted massively from the slow moving and predictable first half.

Steffan Harri and Amelia Lily in Shrek the Musical UK and Ireland tour 2018. Credit Tristram Kenton (2)

The songs by Jeannie Tesori were a little hit and miss. “Big Bright Beautiful World” went down a treat but others fell a little flat and slowed down the show aimed at kids with short attention spans.

On this night we had the understudy Michael Carolan as Shrek. He did well but but it’ll never be natural to see an ogre do jazz hands. To me Amelia Lily will always be the X Factor contestant from when I was 13 but I’ll admit she made a cracking Fiona. Bold and sassy, but also able to belt the high notes. Shrek and Fiona’s chemistry was more noticeable than it was in the film which made you root for them as a couple till the end.

Samuel Holmes as Lord Farquaad absolutely stole the show. The director clearly saw a lot of potential in the character and ran with it, and it paid off. Samuel practically carried the first half of the show with his entrance being the biggest laugh of the show. His costume caused him to hobble around on his knees with a cape to cover the evidence.

Steffan Harri in Shrek the Musical UK and Ireland tour 2018. Credit Tristram Kenton

His all singing, all dancing musical number “What’s Up Duloc?” was the highlight of the evening and had everyone in stitches. His little shuffling run across the stage never got old and he used his costume to his advantage, giving illusions of running across his henchmen and floating across the stage. You could almost do an entire Lord Farquaad spin off about him and his backstory in a ‘Wicked’ style show. I would definitely watch that.

The ensemble of fairytale creatures brought laughter and colour to the stage. The visual element was strong with amazing set which seemed to be ever changing and oh so elaborate. Gorgeous costumes for each of the ensemble which burst with colour and engaged the eye with ease. The dragon was also fantastic with four people expertly controlling the beast.

For the first half I was just not gripped, where as the second vastly improved. From tap dancing rats to burping contests there were many moments of imagination and hilarity, although the adaptation fell flat when it tried to better the masterpiece that is the movie, Shrek.

The Fairytale cast. Shrek the Musical UK and Ireland tour 2018. Credit Helen Maybanks
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