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Shrek the Musical is a rip-roaring rollercoaster of laughs

A scene from Shrek, The Musical featuring Shrek and Princess Fiona. Photo by: Tristram Kenton
A scene from Shrek, The Musical featuring Shrek and Princess Fiona. Photo by: Tristram Kenton

If you haven’t seen the Shrek movies — and there can’t be many of you — then you must have been living in some abandoned, far-flung swamp like the unlikely and grumpy hero of these wonderful animated stories.

But if, like my family and I, you’re a huge fan of the films, the wonderful one-liners, off-the-wall characters and crazy storylines, then you will love Shrek The Musical.

It has been wowing theatre-goers since making its Broadway debut in 2008 and judging by the belly laughs coming from the audience at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal, it has plenty of juice in the tank.

Most of us know the premise of the original Shrek incarnation. A ‘terrifying’ green ogre, reclused in a swamp deep in the woods, is forced to step out of his exile when his home is invaded by a group of displaced fairytale characters, including the Big Bad Wolf, Pinocchio and the Three Little Pigs.

The only way he can get his home back is to travel to Duloc to confront the man who has turned his life upside down, Lord Farquaad.

To cut a long story short (yes, that is a dig/pun regarding the diminutive Farquaad) Shrek ends up going on a quest to rescue a princess named Fiona from a dragon-guarded tower and what follows is a romp packed with comedy, love and some very potent messages.

Before hitting my seat in Nottingham, I wondered just how effective a stage version of the film would be, considering the logistics of an over-sized ogre, fairytale characters and the sheer scale of the scenery.

However, to my delight, the whole production is pulled off with slick aplomb.

From the opening scene-setting featuring a giant fairytale book from which characters pop out from between the pages, to the way in which the dragon is brought to life, this is a stunning production.

But for my money, a show such as this lives and dies by the quality and ability of the cast. And those who take to the stage as part of Shrek The Musical are outstanding.

Starting with Steffan Harri as Shrek, complete with Scottish accent. He is larger than life, engaging and sarcastic — and with a powerful voice to boot in numbers such as ‘I Think I Got You Beat’, does an incredible job.

Princess Fiona, who secretly leads a double life, is wonderfully played by Amelia Lily, who rose to fame on The X Factor and was runner-up in last year’s Celebrity Big Brother. Her voice is fabulous and on-stage chemistry with Shrek is fabulous.

Needing no introduction is Shrek’s unlikely sidekick Donkey, who provides many of the killer one-liners in the more-than-capable hands of Marcus Ayton.

But without the evil Farquaad, the production would not reach the heights it does. Samuel Holmes puts in an incredible performance, literally on his knees, to help the stumpy villain to vivid life. From the moment he tortures The Gingerbread Man for information to ‘The Ballad of Farquaad’, he doesn’t miss a single hilarious beat.

Then factor in the brilliant supporting cast, who fulfil multiple roles and perform like a well-oiled machine, the orchestra and stunning set designs, and you have a recipe for success that cannot be denied.

Don’t miss out on this wonderful show which continues it’s run at the Theatre Royal until Sunday September 23.

For ticket information and timings, CLICK HERE.