Last night I was lucky enough to be able to take my two boys age 5 and 7 to the Empire Theatre in Liverpool to see the touring production of Shrek the Musical.
We were greeted on the red carpet by theatre staff all wearing Shrek ears, and as we wandered into the foyer they were doing face painting with flashes of green and glitter, then walking into the theatre we saw the stage bathed in green light and a giant fairy tale book in the centre. The boys’ excitement built! We happily passed our time waiting for the curtain to come up by working our way through the programme which was cleverly filled with stories about the characters, a quiz as to which character you would be and interesting Ogre facts – a genius idea to keep the children occupied whilst waiting – thank you!
The show started as the film does with a giant story book opening and Shrek’s background story being told. As this was on stage it was a little harder to replicate so it was brilliantly done with clever projections and the characters poking their heads through from behind to ‘appear’ on the story book pages. Then the book disappeared and the main show began.
Throughout, the performances were superb. There was great chemistry between Shrek, played superbly with humour and empathy by Steffan Harri, and Donkey played by Marcus Ayton, whose vocals were spot on and had so much energy in his routines (on a hot night in a furry donkey suit) I was overheating just watching him! The children in the audience (and quite a few adults) found their interaction hilarious- particularly the chats around bodily functions, if you know what I mean ;-).
Laura Main as Fiona, known from Call the Midwife, was also brilliant, in both her solo scenes (well unless you count the dolls) and her partnership with Shrek. You went with them on the whole story as their relationship grew from repulsion to love.
The star of the show for me though was Samuel Holmes, otherwise known as Lord Farquaad. I can’t say enough about his performance, he had me crying with laughter and that was just him walking out on stage. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone yet to see it, but his ability to carry off the, shall we say, shortcomings of the role blew me away. He had some amazing routines, and added a certain element of innuendo which was hilarious however a little difficult to explain to my seven year old!
Overall the whole show was superb. With a production of this scale the set and costumes, as always, were brilliant. What I hadn’t expected was a massive, and I mean MASSIVE flying dragon!!! Now, before you get scared it was a puppet, but one so big it needed 4 people to manoeuvre it. It sang, it danced, heck it even turned into a real woman at the end. I loved it!
So, would we recommend it … absolutely! Both boys thoroughly enjoyed it. My eldest just didn’t want it to end, loved the toilet humour and the songs, which resulted in us having to stay right to the very end despite the fact that his younger brother had fallen fast asleep.
Shrek the Musical is currently on at the Liverpool Empire until Sunday 24th June and is on a UK tour so I’m certain will be coming to a theatre near you soon.