Shrek the Musical by Megan Callaghan, age 13.
Shrek the musical is based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks film and is being promoted as a “musical extravaganza for big kids and little kids alike”. The truth of this was evident when we watched the show at the Wales Millennium Centre on November the 20th. One of the great pleasures of watching live theatre, as well as seeing the show itself, is watching the reaction of the audience and I could have spent the whole evening doing nothing else as youngsters and not-so-youngsters around us literally squealed with delight and responded to what they were seeing on the stage. It was clear that most of the audience were already Shrek fans and predisposed to enjoy the show.
There were lots of young children in the audience, many wearing Shrek headbands, and, as the show started a quarter of an hour late, the sense of anticipation was palpable and rising in the theatre. But it was the big, probably sixty-something, kid in the row in front of us who provided the greatest entertainment to me as he whooped, clapped, cheered and laughed his way through the show before rising to his feet in a standing ovation at the end.
Brandon Lee Sears and Antony Lawrence
Most of us will be familiar with the story of Shrek, the ogre whose life of solitude is interrupted by the arrival of a gang of fairy tale characters in his swamp. He makes a deal with the slimy Lord Farquaad to rescue Princess Fiona in order for her to become Lord Farquaad’s bride, only for him to fall in love with her and for Princess Fiona’s big secret to be revealed.
But the story is almost incidental to the show which is a feast of high energy singing and dancing with plenty of fart- and burp- jokes thrown in for good measure. If I’m completely honest I found the main characters pretty charmless, even annoying in the case of Princess Fiona, and James Gillian’s Lord Farquaad was more camp than evil but the sets and costumes were stunning – one of my favourites being Pinocchio’s featuring detailed wooden legs and arms. The set-pieces, including dancing rats following the Pied Piper and numerous scenes featuring the ensemble of fairy-tale characters, were for me the most successful elements of the show.
The characters that stood out for me were Brandon Lee Sears whose physicality and comic-timing as Donkey stole every scene that he was in, and Cherece Richards whose powerful but effortless vocals as both the Wicked Witch and the Dragon were highlights of the show.
In summary, Shrek the musical was enjoyable but nothing special. I think it was targeted at a younger audience than me and I would give it seven marks out of ten.
Wales Millennium Centre until November 25