Castaway Theatre presents Dreamworks ‘Shrek the Musical’ at The Storyhouse Theatre, Chester. Being very familiar with the movie but having never seen the show live on stage, I am privileged to have my first experience an unforgettable one from the talented youth and young adults at Castaway Theatre Company.
The wholesome tale of ‘Shrek’ needs no introduction, it shares the story of our favourite green ogre on the quest of a lifetime and the storyline for this stage production is no different. Shrek (Euan Parkes) sets out to claim his swamp back from Lord Farquaad (Jake Bloem) and on the way to Duloc, he meets a new companion; Donkey (Cai Gruffudd). This duo finds themselves on a mighty adventure when Lord Farquaad insist they slay the ferocious dragon and rescue Princess Fiona (Francesca Forbes) for him. Filled with humour, colour and lots of fun, this much-loved tale did not disappoint with its entertainment value for a wide audience.
This production showcased some high-class performances that meant you often forgot how young these polished performers were. I felt the show got off to a slow start, but things soon changed when the wonderful fairytale creatures appeared, lighting up the stage with their wacky diversity and amusing costumes. Pinocchio (Jake Livesey) is a stand-out role played by a stand-out performer in terms of his voice, movement, expressions and everything in between. Soon we got to meet the dashing Lord Farquaad (Jake Bloem), whose entrance had the audience in stitches and as the night progressed, it was clear the amusement factor did not wear off at all. Jake’s portrayal was first-class with both his characterisation and costume so comical that you couldn’t take your eyes off him as he commanded the stage on every occasion.
Similarly, Francesca, who played Fiona, won our hearts as she captured the true essence of this princess with ease. We saw the clumsy, feisty side to Fiona, among snippets of desperation, whilst still maintaining the hearty, much-loved characterisation. Francesca’s scene “I know it’s today” was noteworthy for all the right reasons due to her stunning vocals, alongside the talented Thea Evans and Mabel Jackson. These two young performers were pitch perfect and certainly have a bright future ahead!
As for Nadzieja Nowakowska’s vocals in “Forever” – simply wow! I was so disappointed to see this was her only song as I could have listened to that incredible tone and watched this sassy diva do her thing all night. Elise Delroisse’s vocal expertise knows no limits as she astounded the audience during “Freak Flag”. Credit too must go to her wonderful execution of ‘Gingy’, this is such a unique role which was portrayed brilliantly both physically and vocally.
Individual mentions aside, this show would be nothing without its chorus and Castaway’s hard work paid off as their slick performances, combined with the highly professional set and extraordinary costumes created a huge feast for the eyes.
This show left no stone unturned and the whole cast and crew should be very proud of their achievements. The music is likeable, the story is ‘feel-good’ and the style is fabulously peculiar. Huge congratulations to each and every young performer; whose talent and commitment shone bright. ‘Shrek’ continues at The Storyhouse Theatre, Chester until Sunday the 19th of September 2021, for ticket information please visit https://www.storyhouse.com/event/shrek
Reviewer: Blathine Maguire
Reviewed: 17th September 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★