The event marked the first time that Nigel Lindsay (Shrek), Amanda Holden (Princess Fiona), Richard Blackwood (Donkey) and Nigel Harman (Lord Farquaad) had all been in the same room at the same time, but took place well in advance of rehearsals starting in earnest for the production in March, before the show opens at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 7 June 2011 (previews from 1 May).
Guests were treated to afternoon tea in one of the hotel's sumptuous function rooms whilst the creative team behind the show, composer Jeanine Tesori and lyric and book writer David Lindsay-Abaire performed numbers from the show, which has been reworked since its Broadway debut in 2008 and subsequent US tour.
Following performances of "Big Bright Beautiful World", the musical's opening number, and "I know It's Today", the first song the pair wrote together, they were joined on stage by Carrie Compere the show's US touring Dragon to perform "Forever" from the heavily reworked castle sequence and Dragon's entrance. Casting for the role, as well as other ensemble parts has still to be announced for the West End production.
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Speaking at the event Richard Blackwood said he had already started vocal coaching in advance of the show, having never thought of himself as a singer. The stand-up said it was an honour to be following in the "hoofsteps" of Eddie Murphy who played Donkey throughout the Shrek film franchise.
Both Amanda Holden and Nigel Lindsay said they were amazed at the massive scale of the musical with Lindsay's children particularly impressed at his new role. Nigel Harman let slip that he had not known which theatre the musical would be playing before signing on for the show, being pleasantly surprised to find he would be performing nightly at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, reunited with Guys and Dolls co-star Lindsay.
Shrek the Musical premiered in December 2008 on Broadway, where it ran for just over a year. The West End offering will be based on the revamped US touring production, which launched from Chicago earlier this year and features new songs, additional scenes, “improved illusions” and “a newly styled dragon”, as previously reported.
The Anglo-American creative team is led by directors Jason Moore and Rob Ashford as well as Tim Hatley (scenic, costume and puppet design), Hugh Vanstone (lighting design), Peter Hylenski (sound design), and Josh Prince (choreography).