It's one thing to bring a book to the stage or screen, or even a film to the stage – but how do you bring an animation to life?
That’s the challenge facing Shrek the Musical, and this production, which has come from the West End, rises to it magnificently. Full of as much colour, humour and dazzling set-pieces as the film, it broadens some of the characters by giving you their back-story, so they become satisfyingly three-dimensional. If you never thought you could feel sorry for nasty Lord Farquaad, think again.
Shrek and Princess Fiona, played by Dean Chisnall and Faye Brookes, are delightful, with great voices, despite a few problems at times on Wednesday night with the sound balance.
This is a real family show, and Shrek wins over the younger audience with a series of resounding ‘rude’ noises and roars. Idriss Kargbo takes on the Donkey’s whimiscal, satirical role with gusto. He does a great job of creating a believable donkey from an animated character. The cast of Fairytale characters, mainly young actors, are clearly having a great time. We particularly liked Pinocchio and the Three Blind Mice, all pink boas and shades. Three local young actors take a bow as Shrek and Fiona’s younger selves, with great aplomb.
Standout moments for us were What’s Up Duloc? – impressive in the way it pulls off such a big number with such a small cast, and the entrance of the lovesick Dragon in Forever. Candace Furbert has a powerful voice and the team of puppeteers are wonderful, so you really see the dragon express a whole range of emotions and take flight.
It’s hard to remember that Shrek is such a modern story (the Dreamworks film only came out in 2001) because its fairytale moral message is so timeless.
This is great fun, and well worth seeing, whether you’re eight or 80, love the film or not.