Review – Shrek the Musical, Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Thursday 23 June 2011

The Curate’s Egg of this summer’s musicals…

Is there anyone out there who hasn’t seen the film on which Shrek the Musical is based? Yes. Phil met someone the other day who claimed never to have even heard of it, let alone seen it. Very rum.

Anyway, following the first film fairly closely, Shrek the ogre goes all BNP as he finds his swamp turned into a refugee camp by a bunch of fairytale characters who have been kicked out of Dulac by the evil Lord Farquaad. Shrek makes a deal with Farquaad, agreeing to rescue Princess Fiona from her tower so that Farquaad can marry her and thus become king. In return, Shrek will get his swamp to himself again. Don’t think Into the Woods. This has far more fart and belching gags.

But first things first. The evening kicks off with a recorded announcement from Julie Andrews (who was in the film) telling the audience to shut up, turn off phones and unwrap their sweeties now. After our last trip to Drury Lane this was a gift from Miss Andrews we were happy to accept. What happened to pre-show announcements? The National introduced them briefly then dropped them again. Why?

Anyhow, the show itself…

5 out of 5 A serious crime is committed by Nigel Harman performing a veritable Brink’s-Mat of show-stealing. When he finishes his run he’s clearly going down for a very long time. Except he’s already down there, bringing the house with him. His diminutive, camply evil, Farquaad with short, fake, yellow-stockinged legs (real ones hidden by a cloak), raises the show to an entirely new level every time he appears. Might it seem we were mocking him as we happily stood to ovate? Has anyone ever dispensed so much pleasure and satisfaction from performing for a whole evening on their knees?

4 out of 5 The dragon(s) is/are fantastic. The puppeteers handle its first appearance brilliantly and it’s wonderfully voiced by Landi Oshinowo who also plays the other egg on display here, Humpty Dumpty.

4 out of 5 The asylum-seekers are rather good, but unlike Shrek, we wanted to see them more often, especially the promising threesomes of Bears and Little Pigs. Jonathan Stewart‘s Pinocchio deserves a special mention not least for making Phil feel less discontented about his own generous schnoz.

4 out of 5 It may sound as though our praise is damningly faint if we say that Amanda Holden‘s Princess Fiona was better than expected, but she is. Much better. Specialising in taking over Sutton Foster’s Broadway roles (London’s Thoroughly Modern Millie, but we don’t expect to see her Reno Sweeney in the near future), she’s turns out to be the best singer of the four principals and surprisingly adept at the comedy. Her “Morning Person” number kicks off Act 2 nicely and turns into a very satisfying number with tap dancing rats.

3 out of 5Nigel Lindsay makes an amiable guacamole-tinted Shrek, poor chap, even the Whingers drawing into the depths to find their souls, found a degree of sympathy for him in all the padding and prosthetics. It can’t be comfortable inside all that, especially in the Drury Lane‘s toasty auditorium. Does he even bother taking his makeup off between performances on matinée days?

3 out of 5 The songs (music Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics David Lindsay-Abaire) are serviceable and occasionally witty. Phil is still humming “Morning Person” even though he is anything but. There are quite a few decent gags and references to other shows including Gypsy and Sweet Charity, scattered around, though there are stretches, especially in Act 2, which sag more than Shrek’s belly.

1 out of 5 Richard Blackwood has the thankless task of stepping into Eddie Murphy’s donkey shoes but why that means he should stand around looking like an extran Watership Down was unclear. Some donkey physicality wouldn’t come amiss. And for a former stand-up comic Mister Blackwood is surprisingly unfunny. Perhaps it’s all a bid to raise sympathy in the hope that you will give money to one of the many donkey charities advertising in the souvenir brochure.


Taking an aggregate and proving that Phil’s not very proficient with his abacus that makes it…


8 Responses to “Review – Shrek the Musical, Theatre Royal Drury Lane”

  1. The Omnivore Says:

    Michael Billington still left “still left pining for that moment of ecstasy” in his Guardian review. Read the press’ post-show reaction :

  2. […] West End Whingers gave an indepth analysis of SHREK: THE MUSICAL and the (pre-Dancing on Ice) death rattle of certain celebs’ careers: […]

  3. G. T. E. Says:

    …you gave Shrek 3/5 and you gave Lend Me A Tenor 2/5. Now I definitely know to take your reviews with a pinch of salt.

  4. Gosh, has anyone not panned Blackwood’s performance? I’m more surprised by the fact people are surprised he can’t act than I am by the fact he can’t act.

  5. RevStan Says:

    I haven’t seen Shrek so there are two people in the world (haven’t seen Toy Story either).

  6. […] of Lord Farquaad. Spending almost the entire evening on his knees (the Whingers have already made the obligatory joke here) he gets the best laughs of the evening through simply failing to stand up (surely this must […]

  7. Betsy Says:

    lesbellesdames thought the show was completely Farquaad! (But we kiddults had a gas). See our site for more…

  8. […] the original post here: Review – Shrek the Musical, Theatre Royal Drury Lane « West End … Ten wpis został opublikowany w kategorii Bez kategorii i oznaczony tagami claimed-never, film, […]

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