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Review of Shrek the Musical – London’s West End

Amanda Holden as Princess Fiona, Nigel Lindsay as Shrek, Nigel Harman as Lord Farquaad & Richard Blackwood as Donkey in Shrek The MusicalThe biggest, boldest, greenest musical that ever came to London’s West End, Shrek the Musical truly stinks. And yes, that’s a compliment!

Based on the Oscar-winning animated film Shrek, one of the highest grossing film series of all time, Shrek the Musical has big shoes to fill. With a brilliantly written script, larger-than-life characters and an unlikely hero, DreamWorks’ animated film won us over right from the opening credits. Ten years on, my children and I still enjoy watching it over and over again, laughing at Shrek’s toilet humour and Donkey’s antics, and welling up during the pivotal scene.

Having been invited to the Royal Gala Performance of Shrek the Musical, I found myself unbearably excited, but also anxious that the live show wouldn’t live up to my expectations. The moment I caught myself guffawing out loud (and I mean really loud) as Lord Farquaad took to the stage, I knew I was in for a great night.

[box]SHREK THE MUSICAL® is even more fun and family-friendly in 2012, with new family pricing and earlier performance times introduced. From March 7, 2012, Wednesday evening performances of SHREK THE MUSICAL®will begin 30 minutes earlier at the more ‘school night’ friendly time of 7pm. A family ticket is now also available for Wednesday and Thursday evening performances, making the adventure much more affordable. [/box]

If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know the story, Shrek is the tale of a swamp-dwelling ogre who finds his swamp has been taken over by Fairy Tale creatures on the order of Lord Faquaad of Duloc. He sets out to reclaim the deed to his land, with the help of an unwanted sidekick, a wise-cracking talking Donkey. Lord Faquaad needs to marry a Princess in order to be crowned King, so promises him the deed to his swamp in exchange for the hand of Princess Fiona, who has been locked in a tower since she was a little girl. What begins as a simple quest becomes a remarkably insightful and uplifting story of friendship, acceptance and true love.

Nigel Harman as Lord Farquaad and The Company of Shrek The Musical at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Photo by Brinkhoff Mögenburg

While there are a few necessary departures from the animated film, the producers of Shrek the Musical have obviously kept fans like myself in mind and have recreated a dozen of my all-time favourite scenes word for word. When the Gingerbread Man initiated his ridiculous, high pitched “Do you know the muffin man” exchange with Lord Farquaad, the audience could barely contain themselves. While it doesn’t always work, scenes such as this one were infinitely better on stage.

Amanda Holden as Princess Fiona in Shrek The Musical at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Photo by Brinkhoff Mögenburg

Amanda Holden as Princess Fiona looked stunning and sang beautifully, as did the 8 and 10-year old girls who took turns as the Young Princess Fiona. While she was perhaps a little too perfect in the opening scenes, she really came into her own shortly after being rescued. We’d love to know what you all think of Kimberley Walsh in the role of Princess Fiona now that she’s replaced Amanda Holden.

Look forward to Princess Fiona’s toilet-humour-inspired duet with Shrek as they make their way back to Duloc – I won’t spoil it for you, but rest assured it will be an absolute winner with your kids, and will no doubt have you in stitches too.

Nigel Lindsay (Shrek) is fitted in mask and prosthetics. Photo by Scott Wishart

For fans of the animated film, the main characters are almost too true to their on-screen counterparts to be convincing. The truth is, despite Nigel Lindsay’s best efforts on stage, there really is no one like Mike Myers. Lindsay’s performance also suffered from too much Ogre make-up – great for looking the part, but it meant he wasn’t able to use his facial expressions to really connect with the audience. In my view, a bit of an oversight from the costume designers, and a real shame for Nigel Lindsay who otherwise gave a good performance.

Similarly, Richard Blackwood did as good a job as possible of bringing Eddie Murphy’s Donkey to the stage – but there is something about Donkey’s shape and his over-exuberant hopping that just needs the freedom that animation allows.

Suprisingly many of the secondary characters burst out of their animated roles and really came to life on stage. How bizarre that a hand puppet like the Muffin Man should be give such a captivating performance!

Dragon with Richard Blackwood as Donkey in Shrek The Musical at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Photo by Brinkhoff Mögenburg

Dragon is simply beautiful, and the puppeteers did an excellent job of recreating the fluidity of her body movements and tail swishes. Landi Oshinowo was just the right woman for the job – we were blown away by her voice in Sister Act and again here as Dragon. Stunning.

Nigel Harman as Lord Farquaad and The Company of Shrek The Musical at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Photo by Brinkhoff Mögenburg

Lord Farquaad’s costume, while refreshingly minimal and (dare I say it) a bit low budget, was spot-on. The audience roared with laughter just at the sight of him shuffling around the stage, and the unabashedly camp musical numbers were positively side-splitting. The perfect outfit can only take you so far, but combined with impeccable comic timing and his obvious pleasure playing the role, Nigel Harman as Lord Farquaad absolutely stole the show.

All in all, thoroughly enjoyable!

4 stars out of 5.  Great fun for children ages 5 and up, and their families. Note that children age 3 and under will not be allowed into the theatre.

[button link=]Click here to find tickets for Shrek the Musical[/button]


More about the event:

I was honoured to have been invited to the Royal Gala Performance of Shrek the Musical, in aid of The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts. This charity enables children, who due to social or financial reasons have little or no access to high quality arts activity, to experience the arts. The Royal Gala was an important fundraiser for the charity, and marked the beginning of an ongoing relationship between DreamWorks and Children & the Arts.

Written by Janis P.


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  1. i saw shrek on friday it was amazing and really funny would love to see again and again and amanda Holden was amazing and everyone else in it was amazing as well 🙂 !!!

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