Shrek The Musical

Date 19th February 2022
Society Brighton Theatre Group
Venue Theatre Royal Brighton
Type of Production Musical
Director Michael Burnie
Musical Director Carl Greenwood
Choreographer Jodie Michele
Producer Keith Shepherd

Report

Author: Anne Lawson

A half term treat for a responsive audience who received this professional production with a well-deserved standing ovation. Packed with sumptuously costumed fairytale characters, good and bad elements, courage and bravery, love, loneliness, friendship, comedy and pathos wrapped with a wonderful script, great music and slick choreography, in an impressive setting.  What more could you ask for!

Young Shrek sets off to a life of loneliness becoming a very large, pretty ugly, smelly, grumpy ogre, with a fine Scottish accent, in his swamp. His space is invaded by disgruntled fairytale characters exiled from Lord Farquaad’s kingdom. He travels to Duloc to complain, having been joined by an insistent wisecracking Donkey who tags along. Gingy is being tortured and Farquaad is foretold he could become king if he married a princess and Fiona who has been locked in a castle tower for many years fits the bill. With Farquaad’s promise of the return of Shrek’s land he agrees to rescue Fiona, and on the way encounters an enormous red, singing, wing flapping female Dragon. They journey back to the palace whilst wedding plans are afoot. Meanwhile Shrek and Fiona are falling for each other, and Donkey insists he should propose. Fiona has a secret curse – at night she turns into an Orgress and only a kiss from a true love could save her! An overheard  conversation is misunderstood, and Shrek returns her to the castle and the wedding commences. The creatures have a plan, Shrek returns to the castle to declare his love and is mocked by Farquaad. Orders to kill Shrek and banish Fiona are commanded. The Dragon and Donkey are summoned to stop Lord F – Shrek and Fiona kiss, the curse is broken, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Visually superb, open moveable tree setting depicting Shrek’s swamp with effective green lighting, a large green single ‘S’ highlighted the opening scene supplied by Scenic Project of Suffolk, together with Castle Tower, angled Farquaad’s kingdom, Wedding Chapel, the huge Red Dragon, wobbly bridge, cabin, popping bird, animal puppets, not forgetting the plastic horse, all looked A1. Sets were complemented by special effects from Liteup with excellent sound provision from Hiykon Group with good radio mics. A great job from the designers/programmers and operators, pyrotechnics, and an array of solid props. Credit to the Costume Supervisor Donna Harrop and her assistants for the mammoth costume plot supplied by Charades Theatrical Costume Hire - bold, well-fitting with excellent footwear. Finishing accessories exemplary, with the Makeup team headed by Chris Horlock and of course Shrek’s prosthetics taken on by Rebecca Cawthra. The many wigs from various sources were well dressed too.

Experienced Carl Greenwood oversaw musical direction, and it was a joy to hear the ensemble lyrics together with principal roles not being overshadowed by a large orchestra. Smart, imaginative and slick dance movements from dancers, principals and ensemble were created by well-established Choreographer Jodie Michele who has high standards and with the hard work put into rehearsal, her goals were achieved.

Principals were well cast with Nathan Charman enjoying the challenge and portrayed as a strong, lovable, if  burpy and farty Shrek. His wonderfully expressive sidekick Donkey was played by Jamie Collins, and a comic baddie Gary Lynn created a fine portrayal of the diminutive Farquaad splendidly on his knees. Lucia Romero Clark revelled in the escapism in the role of Princess Fiona, her strong voice blending with the younger Teen Fiona, able Mitzi Tullett with Saturday’s Young Fiona, a confident Iris Turner, and loved her ‘Morning Person’. All in similar green gowns and flowing auburn hair. Ellie East hidden as Saturday evening Dragon sang a fine ‘Forever’ supported by Donkey, the Knights and Dragettes. Other key parts – Pinocchio with extending nose was most agile portrayed by Louis Hearsey, Gingy was Grace Riach lifting the roof and Captain of the Guard Geoff Zeidler. Too many characters to name  – guards, villagers, puppeteers, dragon operators, tappers, flame and Duloc dancers, blind mice, and any I have missed, not forgetting understudies and youth teams as Fairytale Creatures. Amalgamating everything together is the task of the Director – an enormous job to shoulder and Michael Burnie did it again. Much comedy, moments of sadness, pace, easy movement, and musicality. Thanks to everyone backstage and army of unseen heroes.