Thursday, 1 October 2015

Shrek The Musical | Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be invited to the press night of the Shrek the Musical UK Tour during its visit to Wolverhampton. Despite currently living in Cardiff for university, I decided to take a trip back to my home theatre to finally see the show for myself having heard so much about it for so long. I packed myself a bag and hopped onto a train hoping the trip would be worthwhile.
Shrek was one of my favourite films as a child and funnily enough I re-watched the film just a few weeks ago: it was just as hilarious as I remembered, which made me very excited to see the show transformed for the stage.

I was treated to a pre-show backstage tour which I found so interesting. The ensemble is huge and almost all of their costumes are kept at the side of the stage for quick changes. The biggest spectacle of the show is, of course, the dragon- a huge puppet controlled by four men (one of whom worked on War Horse in the West End) and that was made especially in America for the show. It’s fair to say that after having a wander around backstage, I was suitably excited for the show to begin.

From the beginning, the show was full of laughs. Dean Chisnall played Shrek as an entertaining but loveable character, accompanied by Idriss Kargbo as his silly and incredibly camp sidekick, Donkey. Bronte Barbe was perfect as Princess Fiona- beautiful and elegant with a feisty edge, and a voice that really had me captivated. One of my favourite songs from the show is I Know It’s Today, sung by the Princess at 3 different ages. Without giving it away, this song alone showed off the impressive choreography and stagecraft.

One of my highlights though was Gerard Carey as Lord Farquaad. To achieve his (below average) height, he performs the whole show on his knees which created instant laughs from his first entrance. During the dance numbers I was in stitches, as was the rest of the audience and he really brought the character to life. If you’re a fan of the films then you’ll definitely enjoy the show as it is full of references to the film that my brother and I would quote constantly as children.

The show really does have something for everyone. The laughs vary, some being toilet humour and comic movement, along with adult humour that had people around me in hysterics. I love a good musical reference and the show was full of them, including the Les Mis logo appearing on a flag during the song Freak Flag, which made me howl. As well as this, catchy songs, flashy costumes and some fantastic effects came together to put on a show I won’t forget. Shrek the Musical runs at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until the 11th October, and I would definitely recommend going along, whether for a night of family entertainment or a cheeky laugh with your friends. 

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