Based on the 2001 Dreamworks Animation Motion Picture and the book by William Steig, Shrek trumped into Salford on its latest and last leg of a 2 year countrywide tour that began in Leeds way back in July 2014. Shrek was originally written and illustrated by William Steig and was first published in 1990.
Shrek the musical was first performed on stage at the Broadway Theatre in New York City on 14th December 2008. Successful runs on Broadway and in London’s West End preluded the national UK and Ireland tour which has seen two people take the role of Fiona whilst the remainder of the cast remained pretty much the same.
The show starts with a huge story book of Shrek opening and we meet Shrek played by Dean Chisnall (who also played Shrek at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane). Shrek is watching over a younger version of himself as he is told by his parents that it's time for him to leave home as he has reached the ripe old age of 7! Next we meet Princess Fiona played by Bronté Barbé, (and the young Princess with her parents) who tells the tale of her being placed in a Dragon guarded Tower also at the age of 7.
The story moves along slightly differently to the motion picture as we are introduced to the fairy tale characters, and Donkey played by Idriss Kargbo. We are soon to be amused by the highly funny Lord Farquaad played by Gerard Carey who has the audience laughing from the first moment to the last.
Musical numbers are performed well by the cast under the musical direction of Dave Rose. The Orchestral management is well handled by Andy Barnwell / Pete Harrison for Musical Co-ordination Services Ltd.
There are some fantastic lighting effects from lighting designers Hugh Vanstone and Matt Daw backed up with sound design by Avgoustos Psillas and Terry Jardine for Autograph. Credit must be given to Michael Marino for the prosthetics make up design.
Of course the show ends with I'm a believer performed by the whole cast and many of the audience joining in with the words and clapping along. This is definitely a production to see and the fantastic dragon expertly manipulated by Will Haswell, Keith Henderson, Ryan Reid and Kevin Yates is a sight to behold. Candace Furbert provides the voice for the Dragon.
Shrek is full of laughs for old and young alike and as with the motion picture the kids love the trumping of Shrek and Fiona. This production is a credit to all involved. The tour director Nigel Harman and production management of Richard Bullimore and Tom McEvilly hold everything together well along with company manager Anthony Field.
Parents beware in the foyer there is a large selection of merchandise (at West End prices) available of which the younger fans are drawn to like an Ogre to a swamp. To find out more about the show you can always visit www.shrekthemusical.co.uk that also has educational downloads to compliment your visit to see the show.
All in all I would give this show a 4 out of 5 as not quite as good as the West End production but you have to bear in mind this is a touring production and has to cater for all shapes and sizes of theatre so effects cannot always be as big as on the West End stage. I would happily go and see the show again or recommend it to a friend. Be quick though, Shrek runs until the 13th February when the tour ends and the friendly green ogre can retire to his swamp for a well-deserved rest.
Reviewer: Joanne Hibbert
Reviewed: 3rd February 2016