Shrek The Musical at The Alexandra, Birmingham - Review

Shrek The Musical at The Alexandra, Birmingham - Review


Posted 2024-04-10 by Andy Colemanfollow

Tue 09 Apr 2024 - Sun 14 Apr 2024

Bringing an animated movie to life on stage can be tricky – but Shrek The Musical is a triumph, thrilling the all-age audience at The Alexandra in Birmingham.

After its UK tour, it is set for a six-week run at London’s Eventim Apollo Theatre from July 19, 2024, and it already has that West End feel. It seems that no expense has been spared on the sets, costumes, video projections and lighting.

Extravaganza: Brandon Lee Sears, Antony Lawrence and Joanne Clifton. Pic: Hugo Glenndinning

Inspired by the 2001 DreamWorks Animation film, the stage show is a full-on extravaganza of music and movement as we follow the story of the ogre Shrek (Antony Lawrence) who lives alone in the swamp until there is an influx of fairytale characters, relocated there by Lord Farquaad (James Gillan). Shrek makes a deal with Farquaad, agreeing to rescue Princess Fiona (Joanne Clifton) - who Farquaad wants to marry - from a dragon-protected castle. In return, Shrek will get his swamp back.

Accompanied by a wise-cracking Donkey (Brandon Lee Sears), Shrek travels through the forest to the castle, where he encounters the dragon, an imaginative mix of puppetry and live-action voiced by Cherece Richards, and meets Princess Fiona. We discover what happens to the trio in the second half but, needless to say, there are plenty of twists and turns.

Wise-cracking: Brandon Lee Sears and Antony Lawrence

The lead actors are outstanding. Antony Lawrence succeeds in making the farting, smelly and unfriendly green ogre into someone we’re rooting for, while hair-flicking James Gillan turns Lord Farquaad into a pantomime-style baddie.

If you only know Joanne Clifton as a professional dancer Strictly Come Dancing you’ll be impressed by her acting and singing skills – and she does get the chance to demonstrate some nifty footwork during one of the ensemble numbers. You may remember Brandon Lee Sears ’s impressive performance in Dreamgirls , The Alexandra’s Christmas 2022 show, and in Shrek he excels as Donkey, constantly annoying the ogre, but in a caring way! Cherece Richards is sensational as the dragon, turning in a showstopping version of Forever, alongside Brandon Lee Sears.

Nifty: Joanne Clifton's fancy footwork

Equally impressive are the ensemble numbers. Members of the energetic and enthusiastic 16-strong group take multiple parts, and, at times, the Alex stage appears too small to contain them as they perform big dance numbers like Story of My Life. I particularly liked the fairytale characters, including Pinocchio, the Three Bears, Big Bad Wolf, Peter Pan, the Three Little Pigs and White Rabbit (pictured below).

It’s a fun night out – and concludes with the audience on its feet singing and dancing along to I’m A Believer, a song also used in the original film. Apparently, it was featured at the end of the movie to ensure it would "go out with a big laugh". It certainly had that effect at the theatre.

Shrek The Musical is at The Alexandra in Birmingham until April 14. It then moves to Derry, Northampton, Canterbury and London.

Rating 4 out of 5


#theatre reviews
#performing Arts
283007 - 2024-04-09 10:29:34


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