Shrek The Musical*

Shrek was a firm family favourite in our house as I was growing up. The animation is great, the characters are hilarious, and surely seeing it on stage with the addition of songs could only be an improvement. Wrong. I'm sorry to say it readers, but I just did not like Shrek The Musical.

Tickets were gifted in exchange for honest review.

Photos: Helen Maybanks

If it had been labelled Shrek the pantomime, perhaps I would have viewed the show more favourably, but it was not what I had been expecting. The characters were very exaggerated, sometimes overly so, and while I do understand that this is to cater more toward the younger audience, I felt that it became messy. The lines between pantomime and musical became blurred, with audience participation being encouraged twice, and a few panto-style jokes about Blackpool directed to the audience. There were also some references to The Lion King and Wicked which were out of place and unnecessary.

The whole performance felt very overboard, and there were parts that could have been fantastic yet were dampened. The songs were okay, and the accompanying dance routines were flawless, but they all lasted a long time and I didn't leave with any stuck in my head, which is rare for me.

My favourite was definitely Dragon's song, which was my personal highlight of the whole show. I had wondered how they could bring her to the stage, and I was delighted to discover that she is portrayed through a stunning piece of puppetry.

The puppeteers were perfectly in sync and gave Dragon a really animated performance, using every bit of the puppet and stage to their advantage. Tim Hatley, the puppet's designer, also breathed life into her by cleverly including illuminated eyes for a powerful effect.

Lucinda Shaw, the singer who voiced Dragon, could give Adele some competition, and belted out her song with soul and sass. She was one of only a few characters that really stood out for me, as unfortunately it felt like most had been directed to mirror the animated characters in everything from voice to intonation. I was really disappointed for myself as a viewer, and for the actors, as they could have really had fun with the roles and brought tonnes of their own personality, but were limited instead.

The visual aspects of Shrek The Musical were brilliant. The set and lighting had all been planned and executed perfectly, which helped massively in bringing the story to the stage and clearly taking us on a journey through the swamp, castle, and Duloc. I particularly liked that even between big scenes, smaller pieces of set were brought of to add more interest and clearly identify to the younger viewers that the characters were in a different area.

The costumes were also very clear and well designed, with little touches that helped to pull it all together, such as the dancers in Duloc wearing vinyl to give them a polished, uniformed effect in keeping with Farquaad's rule.

I really wanted to love this show, but sadly it wasn't for me. However, the children seated around me loved it. They weren't scared by Shrek or Dragon, and the show held their full attention, so if you're looking for a family night out, this is the funny fairytale for you.

I was kindly invited to review the show, but this does not affect my opinion. Shrek The Musical is running at Winter Gardens Blackpool until 27th May 2018.



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