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Shrek the Musical Review

The touring musical Shrek, which I saw at the New Wimbledon theatre, follows a very similar storyline as the DreamWorks’ 2001 animated film of the same name, directed by Vicky Jenson and Andrew Adamson.

The story follows Shrek, a big green ogre played by Antony Lawrence, on an adventure to save Princess Fiona, played by Joanne Clifton. Shrek is tasked with saving Fiona from a castle guarded by a fire breathing Dragon. This is in order to save his swamp which had been overtaken by the newly evicted fairy kingdom who were kicked out of their homes by Lord Farquaad, played by James Gillan. On his journey he was accompanied by the famous sidekick Donkey (if you’ve seen the film, you definitely read that in a Scottish accent!), played by the talented Brandon Lee Sears. In the end the protagonist, Shrek, ends up with an unexpected love interest.

The show portrayed the fairytale vibe perfectly and despite the minimal props, due to the show touring, the set design was cleverly brought to life using lighting and projections by Ben Cracknell.

The cast were all great and I was particularly impressed with the solo numbers including the emotional “I Know It’s Today” performed by the three Princess Fiona’s. There was a young Fiona, a teenage Fiona and a present day Fiona all singing at the same time with their voices blending harmoniously together. Antony Lawrence portrayed the grumpy Shrek very well, though a noticeable difference from the film is that on stage, we learn of the brutal upbringing of the main character, giving the audience even more reason to sympathise with him. Joanne Clifton also had a good show portraying the feisty Princess Fiona brilliantly. She did a great job of bringing both humour and emotion to her character. A negative was the poorly done make-up for the final scene, as Fiona transitions into an ogre, it was obvious to the audience that it was rushed. Formally of Strictly Come Dancing, Clifton, got to show off her dancing skills on the stage. A standout for me was Shrek’s ‘annoying’ sidekick Donkey, portrayed by Brandon Lee Sears whose vocals were just breathtaking. Sears got the comedic elements of his character spot on and his Donkey like movements were impressive. Finally, Cherece Richards played Dragon, she was accompanied by a puppeteered large pink dragon that floated around the stage behind her. Much like her co-star, Richards’ vocals were remarkable.

Having grown up watching Shrek, I was excited to see how it would translate onto the stage, and I was pleasantly surprised. The show was full of fun, humour, emotion and the best part was its energy. The choreography by Nick Winston paired with the brightly coloured costumes was fabulous, the ensemble did a great job of performing the dance numbers while portraying their individual fairytale characters. Along with the new tracks added by Richard Atkinson, there was also the classic “I’m a Believer”, which dates back to 1967, as the finale which got (almost) the whole audience on their feet and joining in. I would therefore give this show 4.5 stars. One of the main reasons I wanted to watch Shrek the musical, was for Rory Shafford (who unfortunately didn’t appear) and Imogen Bailey who were both previously in Newsies. The latter impressed as the ‘Ugly Duckling’ and in her portrayal of several other characters particularly in the tap dance number.

I would recommend this show to anyone looking for a feel-good uplifting evening at the theatre.

Accessibility at the New Wimbledon Theatre

Located a five minute walk away from the fully accessible Wimbledon station, The New Wimbledon Theatre is located on the high street. When we arrived there was a separate entrance for wheelchair users along the side of the theatre, this led straight to a lift to take me down to the stalls. The theatre was small and intimate compared to those on the West End meaning it was slightly tight for me to drive around, and the merchandise shop also wasn’t accessible. Our seat was around the middle of the stalls in row J and we sat on the end, unfortunately the view was restricted (and made worse with giant speakers) so I did miss the parts that happened on the near side and at the back of the stage (which annoyingly included the Gingerbread Man and Princess Fiona’s transition scenes). At the end everyone stood up so I couldn’t see the finale, but at this point it is frustratingly expected at all theatres.


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