Friday, January 27

SHREK The Musical – Liverpool Empire

This family-focused musical with music by Jeanine Tesori is based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film, Shrek, with book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire; it brings all the familiar characters from the film to life.

It is a very funny, unusual fairy-tale in which curses are reversed, donkeys and dragons find love, princesses in all shapes and sizes are beautiful and monsters get the girls. The moral of the story is that it’s important to accept people who are different and the title character, who is a green ogre, definitely fits the bill.

Shrek is a swamp-dwelling ogre who, in a make-believe land, embarks on a quest to reclaim his land.  He encounters a smart-aleck donkey with the gift of the gab, who becomes a good friend, battles a scarey fire-breathing dragon and rescues spirited Princess Fiona whilst discovering genuine friendship and true love.

This all-singing, all-dancing musical comedy includes over a dozen fairy-tale rebels, from Pinocchio to Peter Pan, colourful costumes, engaging puppets and lots of new songs as well as The Monkeys classic, “I’m a Believer”.

It was a full house, mainly of parents and grandparents with children which meant there was a lot of chattering during the performance which made it sometimes difficult to hear the performers and subsequently miss some of the many jokes in the production. Mainly the jokes were aimed at the younger members of the audience but there were smaller details which only adults watching would appreciate; the children loved the bottom burping by Shrek and the competitive farting and burping in “I Think I Got You Beat”. Additionally, there were references to other musical theatre productions; during “Freak Flag,” a catchy, upbeat number which sums up the overall message of the show, to value and embrace each other’s differences when a flag was waved behind the cast featuring Pinocchio as Cosette from Les Misérables and when Lord Farquaad sang Wicked during “What’s Up, Duloc?”

The set design and lighting enhanced the performances as the set changed from depicting a dark forest to the cast being transported to Duloc and Lord Farquaad’s castle; additionally, the lighting played a huge part in this show and created appropriate atmosphere throughout the production.  Masterful puppetry enhanced the production; in one scene there was a giant red dragon taking centre stage controlled by four puppeteers, all camouflaged in black, who managed to bring the dragon alive so that it really looked as though it was singing and flying around the stage.

Birkenhead Operatic Society Trust Company are to be commended on this production especially cast members playing Donkey, Lord Farquaad, Shrek and Princess Fiona; slick comedic timing, vocals and singing and dancing by all the cast was admirable and their energy is to be applauded; the choreography was inventive and was delivered with 100% energy by all throughout the show.

The production finished on a high with the audience joining in with the cast singing, “I’m A Believer.”

Theatregoers looking for an entertaining family show or something different rather than a traditional Christmas panto will enjoy this fast-paced amateur production.

Reviewer: Anne Pritchard

Reviewed: 4th December 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★