- The Musical
Based on the
very popular animated film about the ogre and the princess, this Broadway
musical has a pretty much guaranteed family audience. And they will not be
disappointed – Shrek The Musical is an enjoyable, accessible evening.
Lane Theatre 2011 - 2013
On the other hand, it is not likely that they will carry away memories to
last a lifetime – Shrek The Musical is a solid, polished but not especially
imaginative or exciting translation from film to stage.
The musical's creators – writer-lyricist David Lindsay-Abaire, composer
Jeanine Tesori, directors Jason Moore and Rob Ashford, designer Tim Hatley –
have taken what might be called the Beauty And The Beast route, of
duplicating the look and feel of the film as closely as possible, as opposed
to the Lion King route of re-imagining it for the stage.
Except, perhaps, for the fact that the Donkey is clearly a man in a donkey
suit and the diminutive Farquaad is obviously a man on his knees, there is
no need for any audience members familiar with the film to stretch their
imagination or be surprised by what they see.
The generally low-tech set made mainly of cartoon cutouts has the feel of a
high-budget Panto and might even disappoint those anticipating spectacular
effects or theatrical magic – with one notable exception.
The amorous dragon makes two appearances, the first delightfully magical in
a purely theatrical way, and the second as spectacular as anyone could ask
As song writers, Lindsay-Abaire and Tesori have for the most part chosen to
shoehorn their songs into the action rather than integrate them by replacing
dialogue, so the story occasionally stops dead for the almost
randomly-placed insertion of a song or dance.
The songs themselves are not memorable, though their concept or staging
sometimes is. 'I Think I Got You Beat' is a one-upsmanship contest between
Shrek and Princess Fiona that delights the kids by developing into a
belching and farting competition, and for no discernible reason (except that
it's fun) Fiona has a song-and-dance routine with some rats that builds from
a clever visual joke to a grand Hollywood production number. (On the other
hand, the songs for Farquaad and for the dispossessed fairy tale characters
are particularly poor.)
Nigel Lindsay invests Shrek with as much personality as a man in a green
prosthetic head and fat suit can, though he has to fight through so much
distancing that you might sometimes wonder if, like Darth Vader, the body
and the voice were two separate people.
Amanda Holden nicely captures the mix of romance and no-nonsense feminism in
Fiona and, as undoubtedly the best singer and dancer onstage, injects some
welcome Broadway razzmatazz.
Richard Blackwood channels Eddie Murphy as the Donkey, and Nigel Harmon
appropriately mugs his way through Farquaad. Everyone else doubles and
quadruples roles, with Landi Oshinowo standing out for the Motown-flavoured
sound and attitude she gives the voice of the dragon.
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Shrek - Drury Lane 2011