Shrek – the musical (Tour – Manchester)

”Shrek” the musical may not have the songs but it has the humour and spectacle, says Elise Gallagher.

The beauty of Shrek as a franchise is that it has something for everyone.

Faye Brookes as Princess Fiona in Shrek
Faye Brookes as Princess Fiona in Shrek

© Helen Maybanks

Manchester’s Palace Theatre opened its doors to ‘Shrek the Musical’ last night and though many may brand the production "a glorified children’s show" it does not disappoint.

The only major difference between the original film and musical is that Chinsnall (Shrek) delivers a diluted ferocity to his character, whilst the script at the same time retains the originality and wit that made us all fall in love with the narrative.

With an entire number dedicated to farts, the production is definitely tailored to a younger audience yet the wit and sarcasm inherited from the animated movie allows the production to be thoroughly enjoyed by adults alike.

The musical adaption of Shrek follows the 2001 film but not strictly, shedding some light on Shrek’s childhood we are able to learn more about the Ogre. Dean Chinsnall plays the title character and surprises many audience members with his excellent vocals, blowing audience members away with numbers such as "When Words Fail."

Idriss Kargbo plays the iconic Donkey, oozing energy whilst putting a smile on everyone’s face. Faye Brookes is Princess Fiona and she is very good; I was particularly impressed with the swift and seamless transformations during "I Know It’s Today" which sees Princess Fiona transform from child, to teen, to woman. My only criticism is that sometimes Fiona comes across too sickly sweet in comparison with her original 2001 character that we all know and love.

Perhaps unsurprisingly Gerard Carey completely steals the show playing the pint sized Lord Farquaad. You do not want to miss "The Ballad of Farquaad", the costume and the choreography made it impossible not to hate the villain. The pantomime-esque performance matched with a little adult humour makes him the perfect character for all ages.

The fairy tale characters are a force of their own; particularly within ‘Freak Flag’; my particular favourites being the ‘Three Little Pigs’ who don the swankiest salmon suits complete with suitcases made from either straw, wood or bricks. The production even has a cross dressing wolf, arguably a nod to the DreamWorks’s film.

Unfortunately, what the show lacks is memorable songs and may be the reason why the show received such a luke warm reception in the U.S. Jeanine Tesori has created numbers which are pleasant and entertaining enough but don’t particularly thrill the audience.

Shrek the Musical is a bright, fun and humorous adaption of the classic DreamWork’s Oscar winning animated film and the finale has the wow moments you need to send you out smiling.

Shrek the musical is at the Palace Theatre until 11 January.