I really didn't know what to expect when I found out I would be seeing Shrek The Musical at the Liverpool Empire Theatre last night. If someone had asked me what movie I thought would make a good musical- Shrek would not have entered into my mind. With all that said- it worked.
For those who don't know the story- Shrek is an ogre who wants the rights back to his swamp. Lord Farquaad promises him the rights to his swamp, only if he will rescue Princess Fiona from her tower and bring her to him to be his wife.
It sounds simple, however Shrek and his sidekick Donkey have to cross a moat filled with lava and fight the Dragon that guards the castle where Princess Fiona has been trapped for her whole life. Thanks to the trust between Donkey and Shrek and the effect Donkey has on the Dragon- they manage to escape.
As they make their way back to the castle, Fiona and Shrek form an unexpected friendship which blossoms into romance. As it turns out- Princess Fiona and Shrek have a lot more in common than they first thought…
For fans of the movie, the script featured a lot of the memorable one liners and interactions featured in the film. What made the production different was the introduction of new solos and duets from the key characters which carried the story forward and provided the audience with even more giggles. There was a perfect balance so people who hadn't seen the movie could enjoy it just as much as those who had. It was sufficiently different from the film to warrant seeing it on stage.
Like the film, the musical operates on two levels- so both children and adults will find it funny.
Dean Chisnall was the gentle giant we all yearn for from the character of Shrek as he made the transition from grumpy loner to loved up ogre and faithful friend.
For me, Gerard Carey stole the show as Lord Farquaad. He didn't need to say anything to get the audience laughing because he spent most of the night on his knees to give the impression he was really short. As he moved around the stage with fake legs attached to his thighs, he had the audience in raptures.
Bronte Barbe was everything you want from Princess Fiona- she was sarcastic and assertive but all in a bid to hide her insecurities. Like Shrek she was soft and gooey in the centre.
Idriss Kargbo provided all the comic relief and silliness we look forward to from the character of Donkey with his enthusiastic and slightly camp performance. The rapport between him and Chisnall was exactly what we hoped for as an audience between the two unlikely friends.
It's always intriguing to see how particular aspects of an animation translate to the stage. Puppeteers brought the dragon out on stage, which looked exactly like the one in the movie. She flew, she spun around, she flirted and she sung- after few minutes, the puppeteers faded into the background and you believed she was there. She was a real sight to behold.
Although the story is meant to be set in medieval times- the script had been modernised to appeal to a digital age audience. I really enjoyed the little details and references to modern day- as they got a lot of laughs.
I love the story of Shrek because its message is such a healthy one to pass onto the younger generations. That it's ok to be different and that someone will love you- for you. That people, don't live and look like they do in the fairy tales. It promotes healthy body image and a positive attitude. For the older generations it challenged what were brought up to read and believe as kids too.
Shrek The Musical is a mood booster- perfect for the run up to Christmas and sets an excellent example to children about love and happiness.
Tagged in Liverpool Empire Theatre