Review: Shrek the Musical at New Wimbledon Theatre
Bright, colourful and joyous, Shrek opens with a story book introduction of how the 7-year-old ogre is sent out into the world by his parents, and a parallel tale of Princess Fiona whose parents lock her in a tower at the same age.
The story is well known but starts with all the fairy tale characters being evicted by Lord Farquaad to Shrek's swamp and, in an effort to regain his privacy, Shrek goes to Duloc to confront Farquaad. The lord wants a bride so that he may become king and hoodwinks Shrek into rescuing the princess from the tower, slaying the dragon in order to do so.
This is the directorial debut of Nigel Harman, himself a Laurence Oliver award winner for the part of Lord Farquaad in the West End production, and he has brought us a show of pure entertainment for the whole family.
Dean Chisnal, reprising his West End role and Bronté Barbé are excellent as the lead characters with wonderful singing voices and they are superbly supported by Gerard Carey and Idriss Kargbo as Lord Farquaad and Donkey respectively, both playing their roles to great comedic effect. Lord Farquaad's costume is ingenious but to say more would spoil the effect his entrance on stage has on the audience.
The sets are impressive and used very cleverly and the costumes are all imaginative and colourful, particularly the Fairy Tales characters, but for me the most impressive character was the dragon which almost filled the stage and was operated by not one but FOUR puppeteers. I was amused to note that she was wearing lipstick.
Most of the musical numbers are upbeat but those that are more sombre have a message to give such as "what makes us special, makes us strong" and, where would great musical theatre be without a tap routine? Shrek does not disappoint with a clever 'rat-tap' when Fiona helps the Pied Piper.
I picked up several subtle nods to other films, shows and plays, including Shakespeare, but my favourite line was "No-one puts Farquaad in the corner."
The show ends with a rousing rendition of 'I'm a Believer' which encourages the audience to get on their feet. So I would say, to brighten up these bleak months, a couple of hours with Shrek and company at the New Wimbledon Theatre will most certainly lift your spirits.
By Anne Horsburgh
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January 22, 2016