Shrek

Date 17th February 2022
Society Belper Musical Theatre
Venue Forte College, Derby
Type of Production Musical
Director Megan Gibson and Jen Lewis
Musical Director Richard Hodges
Choreographer Sharon Stringer

Report

Author: Joyce Handbury

Shrek The Musical is a fantasy romantic comedy with music Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and basically follows the storyline of  the 2001 Dreamworks Animation film, Shrek, written by William Steig. 

Two ogre parents send their seven-year-old son Shrek out of their house and into the world to make his living. Some years later an embittered grown up Shrek is living peacefully alone in a swamp. His solitude is disrupted by the arrival of fairytale creatures who have been made homeless and banished there by the ghastly ruler ruler of Duloc, Lord Farquaad. Although hesitant he decides to travel to see Farquaad and try to regain his swamp. Along the way he rescues a talkative Donkey who insists on tagging along to show Shrek the way to Duloc. Meanwhile Lord Farquaad has found out that he will only become a King if he marries a Princess. On advice he chooses Princess Fiona who is currently trapped in a castle guarded by a fire-breathing dragon. On meeting Shrek, Farquaad agrees to give him back his swamp as long as he rescues Fiona.

What a wonderful portrayal was delivered by Joe Woffinden as Shrek. He certainly ‘looked’ the part and he was so convincing, so endearing, so believable, so perfectly in tune with the character you couldn’t help but hope that he would be accepted for what he was and for him to win over Fiona and to defeat Farquaad. His excellent Scottish accent (staying true to the film) was perfect as were his acting skills and his powerful and superb singing voice. A really commendable performance on all counts. The developing friendship between him and Donkey was spot-on and we were treated to another fine performance from Dale Hind as Donkey. He was a very well turned out Donkey with attitude and Dale totally captured the very essence of the engaging, energetic and talkative nature of the character by his superb singing, acting and dancing skills. Stacey Hinds was perfect as Princess Fiona. She was feisty when necessary but showed the inner torment of her transformation to an ogress splendidly. Stacey has a lovely singing voice and together with her acting abilities and skilled comic timing, gave a top notch performance. Joe Loverock was outstanding as Lord Farquaad, how he managed to do the whole show whilst posturing around on his knees was incredible. He was majestically magnificent, so animated and his antics were hilarious - an absolutely brilliant portrayal. The dragon puppet was great but the ‘live’ version of the Dragon by Sarah Bright was stunning. Her truly awesome singing voice was just phenomenal. I loved Danni Stringer’s excitable, funny and distraught interpretation of Pinocchio and Sarah Stone was splendid as Gingy. Hannah Raziq as Young Fiona, and Olivia Bell as Teen Fiona, were delightfully cute and their singing of ‘I Know It’s Today’ alongside Adult Fiona was so harmonious and beautifully sung. Excellent support came from cast members playing cameo roles. There was also a great deal of  multi-characterisation involved in the show from cast members being Fairy-tale creatures (loved the sexy, glamorous Three Blind Mice), Soldiers, Performers and dancers, and all were carried out superbly. There were some very funny and excellent scenes, none more so than the tap dancing mice, and indeed all the ensemble numbers were sung and danced with so much energy and fun. The costumes were exceptional as was the make-up, sets were simple but well decorated, good props and back projections all added to the whole performance along with good lighting and sound. It was great to have a seven piece live orchestra but for me, they were a slight distraction as they were placed at the rear of the performance area (there is no stage at Landau) where they were visible throughout and I felt that it just took away from the ambience of the setting. I do know and appreciate that space is a premium here and it is only a very slight niggle in what otherwise proved to be a terrifically funny and amusing show with an amazing principal line-up and an excellent supporting and ensemble cast. Many congratulations to the whole Production Team and to everyone else involved.