The year is 2001 and there is major buzz about a new movie that tells the tale of an ogre that happens to fall in love with a princess, all whilst on a mission to gain his swamp back. Little does this ogre know, the princess has a little secret. That secret is that she becomes an ogre at dawn due to a curse that was cast on her, that can only be reversed by true love's first kiss. Shrek, the movie, ended up being a major hit worldwide having made £491 million from all across the world. This movie was so major that musical theatre writers and composers created a musical version of the film that so many people loved and continue to love today. I was fortunate enough to see the UK & Ireland tour cast of Shrek the Musical right here in London.
This new production of Shrek the Musical takes on the story from the film with the help of a beautifully written score and some well choreographed dances. There were some changes to this particular production and as much as I wanted to totally LOVE this show, there were a couple of elements of the book, score and choreography that did not resonate the way it was supposed to for me. The book felt a little rushed, there was a lot of humour that could have hit the audience more, but the actors were talking too fast in parts that the audience could not catch the dialogue. There are a lot of songs in this show and I understand that people may get bored of hearing too much dialogue, but there were times a song came with lacked in a back story and I wish there was a little more of this weaved in. The “Welcome to Duloc” song usually comes before Lord Farquad’s entrance, but in this production it came after, and that was confusing to me. I enjoyed the dancing in this show, but wished that the tape in “Morning Person” (spolier alert) also incorporated the dancers on stage. I know there are talented people in the cast that could tap in real time and I wished they had that opportunity. Despite these minor tweaks, this production stayed true to the heart of Shrek’s story and made me feel like a kid again watching the movie for the first time.
The set and lighting design of this production received a lot of upgrades from when this show first got its start in NYC. There is use of LED lights and cloth screens that help the story in terms of allowing the audience to visually see places such as Fiona’s castle, Duloc, and the forest. Though there was a minor glitch in one of the projectors that made one of the visuals a little distorted, I would say these elements were a great addition to the production.
Though there were many talented artists in this production, there were two that really stood out to me. The first of those is Cherece Richards who doubles both as the Dragon and as the Wicked Witch. Her performance was stellar! The tone in her voice was so clear and smooth. She hit every note and every run she sang and her delivery was truly iconic. She meant what she said and sang, and made the audience believe her through her storytelling. The second of those is Georgie Buckland who has a four character track. Buckland portrays Gingy, Elf, Bluebird, and is a Dragon Puppeteer. Buckland’s vocal range is truly impeccable. Being able to have a range of characters to play and making sure that each one is distinctive takes talent and that is what Buckland has. I was very grateful to be sat in the audience to watch everyone’s performance, but these two especially.
Overall, I will say that despite some of the changes in the production, I did enjoy watching it and listening to the nostalgia it brought me from first seeing this show in NYC back in 2010. Not only did I enjoy it, I enjoyed hearing all the little kids that came to see the show. Watching them belly laugh and dance their little hearts out warmed my soul.
This tour of Shrek the Musical is currently playing in London at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 30 September. If you have a chance, go and check out this show! Bring your kids, if you have any, as they will enjoy this as well. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.
AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by William Maidwell