Tuesday, May 28

Shrek The Musical – Hull New Theatre

Imagine being thrown out of your house and told by your parents to make your own way in life – at the age of 7!

That’s exactly what happened to a young Shrek, the green ogre whose story is told in Shrek The Musical which started its run at the Hull New Theatre on Tuesday night.

But that was the only sad-ish part of the whole rip-roaring production.

On the stage, a huge arc of lights surrounded by a backdrop of falling snowflakes and a massive Shrek story book, plus a soundtrack of croaking frogs, greeted us as we took our seats.

Within minutes of curtain up, Shrek, now a giant, broke wind, then used a skunk as a deodorant under his armpits. That’s what ogres do.

Shrek (Antony Lawrence) had us in the palm of his hands from that first window-rattling trump.

But his world is turned upside down when a host of fairytale characters, in the most dazzling costumes, descend on his swamp. They included Pinocchio, the Pied Piper and Gingy the gingerbread man whose near demise provides one of the funniest scenes when he is stretched on the rack by order of an evil Lord.

The evil one in question is Lord Farquaad (James Gillan) who wants rid of all those “freaks”.

The “freaks” beg Shrek to deal with the evil Lord; he agrees and on the way to Duloc meets another escapee, Donkey (Brandon Lee Sears) who provides much of the comedy on the night with his cheekiness.

Farquaad, looking for a Queen to marry, gets Shrek to rescue a certain Princess Fiona (Joanne Clifton) who is imprisoned in a tower. Shrek succeeds and events take an even funnier turn when she turns out to be the ogre’s equal in every way.

A happy ending was never in any doubt, for Shrek, the Princess, Donkey and his unlikely amour, Dragon (Cherece Rchards).

Farquaad gets his just desserts – I’ll say no more.

The pace of this production never slowed and musical director Richard Atkinson ensured the music emanating from the orchestra pit kept up the pace.

The stage setting got better and better throughout with the aforementioned arc of lights surrounding an ever-changing video backdrop.

Every character on stage on the night gave their all, keeping us in the well-attended audience thoroughly entertained. But it was the leads who shone.

Lawrence as Shrek had a powerful voice to match his size and perfectly portrayed the ogre as scary yet vulnerable.

Clifton’s Princess Fiona was sassy, unladylike, energetic and a great singer to boot, while Gillan as the nasty Farquaad had us in stitches with his camp voice and exaggerated actions.

Sears as the Donkey never let up all night long with his amusing shenanigans – he, too, had a powerful singing voice as did his love interest, Richards as the Dragon.

This talented crew never lost their momentum and at the finale when Shrek started singing the Monkee’s hit, I’m A Believer, (just one of 21 songs in the show), it brought the house down.

Running until Sunday, March 10th, 2024; 7.30pm nightly with 2.30pm matinees on Thursday, 7th, Saturday and Sunday, 9th & 10th. Please note, there is no evening performance on Sunday, 10th.

Tickets cost from £24. Call (01482) 300306 or visit www.hulltheatres.co.uk

Reviewer: Jackie Foottit

Reviewed: 5th March 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.