Reviewed by Donna King
Last night we went to see Shrek the musical at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. A wonderful fun packed show, great entertainment for ‘little’ kids and ‘big’ kids alike. Something for everyone to enjoy. I must be one of the very few people who have never seen any of the Shrek films. I was really looking forward to seeing what everyone was raving about and was not disappointed. A great story and highly talented cast with great singing and dancing throughout. Top class humour, with jokes for adults too. There were a couple of references to specific Blackpool venues that had the audience howling. Really impressive puppets, costumes and sets.
Getting there was stress free, we managed to park the car right at the side of the Winter Gardens on Tower Street near Hounds Hill shopping centre. What a magnificent building Winter Gardens is, restored to its former glory as a beautiful example of old architectural beauty on a grand scale, it must be one of the largest theatres in the UK.
The staff were all very welcoming smartly dressed in matching uniforms, getting into the swing of the night some wore the Shrek and Princess Fiona head gear which helped create a maniacal atmosphere.
A great tale about how Shrek, a big green ogre (Stefan Harri), had been living alone in a swamp and was suddenly surrounded by all our favourite fairytales including; Pinocchio (Joseph Dockree), The Three Bears (Kevin Yates, Jennifer Tierney and Francesca Williams), Peter Pan (Ethan Bradshaw), Red Riding Hood (Sarah-Louise Jones), The Big Bad Wolf (Michael Carolan), a wicked witch (Laura Wilson), The Three Little Pigs (Reece Kerridge, Adam Taylor and Adam Baker), The Sugar Plum Fairy (Jemma Revell) and more. They had all been sent away from the kingdom of Duloc by evil Lord Farquaad (Samuel Homes) because he viewed them as ‘freaks’. Shrek seeks out Lord Farquaad to get them to be able to return home and get his swamp back for himself.
Shrek meets a talking donkey (Marcus Alton) and rescues him from an army and they become friends travelling together. When they meet Lord Farquaad he insists that Shrek goes to rescue Princess Fiona (Amelia Lily) who is trapped in a tower by a fire breathing dragon as he wants to become king. Shrek fights with the dragon a huge magnificent puppet very cleverly handled to look as though she were alive on the stage. Shrek manages to rescue Princess Fiona who has waited for 20 years to be rescued by a prince and is disappointed when Shrek reluctantly takes his helmet off to reveal that he is an ogre. However later we discover that due to a curse she herself becomes an ogre at night time.
They travel back to Duloc so that Princess Fiona can marry Lord Farquaad. Shrek and Princess Fiona fall in love with each other. One evening the donkey discovers that Princess Fiona turns into an ogre at night. The only way to end the curse is for her to be kissed by her ‘true love’. Shrek overhears her saying how she is ugly and thinks she is describing him, so Shrek is upset by this so decides not to tell her how he feels about her. They arrive in Duloc and Princess Fiona goes to get married while Shrek returns to his swamp.
The donkey convinces Shrek to go back to Princess Fiona explaining how she was not saying awful things about Shrek, she was describing someone else. They arrive back just as the wedding is taking place. The set on the stage is striking with a huge stained-glass window and tall flickering candles. Shrek expresses his love for her with a beautiful moving song ‘Big bright beautiful world’ my favourite number in the show. Then all the fairytales turn up to stand up to Lord Farquaad, however then the sun sets Princess Fiona turns into an ogre, she fly’s up into the air on stage, really impressive effects and Lord Farquaad is shocked that she has turned into an ogre, he sends her away but then the magnificent dragon comes to save the day, flying through the huge stained-glass window smashing the window she kills Lord Farquaad. Shrek and Princess Fiona Kiss which prompted the audience to cheer and the curse is broken, she becomes her true self, an ogress.
They all sing a wonderful song ‘This is our story’ ending with a climax of a finale all the cast sing and dance their hearts out to ‘I’m a believer’ joined by most of the audience with a standing ovation to end a glorious fun packed night. All the cast were very good however our favourite of the night was Marcus Alton as the donkey. We would highly recommend this show to all and give it a well-deserved 5 stars.
Tickets cost from £20 (booking fees may apply).
Shrek the Musical is at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool from 15-27 May 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk or call the box office on 0844 856 1111.
Winter Gardens & Opera House, 97 Church Street, Blackpool, FY1 1HL | 0844 856 1111