Shrek the Musical: Now We're Believers!
On Wednesday, the VisitBlackpool team went along to see Shrek the Musical at Blackpool Winter Gardens, after what has felt like a very long wait for this iconic show!
The original story of Shrek was based on the 1990 picture book by William Steig and pays homage to the storybooks and fairytales of our childhood. Dreamworks animated Shrek was released in 2001, and is one of the best loved family movies of the modern age. The musical adaption first premiered on Broadway in 2008 with a roaring success, and is currently touring the UK.
Shrek is our unlikely hero. He lives a solitary life in the woods to avoid the people who are frightened of him, and he likes it this way, thank you very much. We meet him as his swamp is invaded by fairytale creatures who have been deemed misfits by the diminutive Lord Farquaad, leader of Duloc.
In return for Lord Farquaad granting Shrek his swamp back, he agrees to rescue Princess Fiona from a tower guarded by a fire-breathing dragon so that Lord Farquaad may marry her. Lord Farquaad is a little lacking when it comes to being a knight in shining armour, hilariously demonstrated by Samuel Holmes.
Along with newfound companion, Donkey, Shrek sets off on a whirlwind adventure!
Before the show even began, we could tell that the staging was going to be exceptional. The sets are colourful, versatile and engaging. The artwork and construction of them was fantastic; really creative and helped immerse ourselves in the story.
The costumes are also magnificent. Everyone we spoke to commented on the superior quality of each character’s make-up and costuming (that kids would absolutely love) from the three pink piggies to the Duloc townsfolk.
As Shrek, Steffan Harri is larger than life. We were really worried that the lead role would either have a rubbish Scottish accent, or not have one at all. His accent was excellent, and remained consistent throughout the show.
Marcus Ayton plays a gloriously camp Donkey, whose flamboyance and rich vocals make for some fantastic music numbers.
The songs are great fun; mostly upbeat and with a positive message, particularly ‘Freak Flag’ which promotes celebrating the differences between ourselves. ‘Morning Person’ by Princess Fiona is a ludicrous, glittery treat and ‘Make a Move’ by Donkey is another fun number with some great surprise moments and plenty of sass.
The ensemble cast are amazing. Unlike many shows, each cast member has a fully-realised character that they fully commit to, and their group numbers were fantastically in-sync.
Our best bits
‘Forever’ by Dragon is a total triumph. Dragon is a fifteen-foot puppet who was expertly brought to life by her handlers, and Lucinda Shaw left everyone absolutely gobsmacked with her Jennifer Holliday-esque show-stopper. Total chills.
We unanimously agreed that Samuel Holmes’ Lord Farquaad is absolute perfection. He tells the whole story with his face, and performs the entire show on his knees whilst executing the dance routines with precision and trickery. His tongue-in-cheek humour tickled the grown-ups to no end.
Princess Fiona’s reveal (we won’t spoil it) . . . we are awed by how cleverly that scene was engineered. The magic of the show wasn’t compromised for a moment!
See what the rest of the team said . . .
“What stood out for me was the quality of the performances and the special effects, it was a superior production.”
“There were fantastic costumes. The dragon was excellent and so were the scene sets!”
I hadn’t seen the film, but I totally love Lord Farquaad, with his little legs being swung all over the place!”
The production remained loyal to the film, which I liked, and it included some of my favourite classic quotes! I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Lord Farquaad. He totally stole the show for me! The dragon puppet was amazing, and her voice totally blew me away.”
“I enjoyed the show. It was well-staged and the effects were great. It was a really good laugh!”
As you can see, a fantastic night was had by all, and it was so heart-warming to see so many families coming to see a Blackpool show, and their little ones enjoying the magic of the theatre. The production felt like a spring pantomime, and was a perfect night out for this time of year.
It’s amazing to see such high-calibre shows in resort, and it’s on until 27 May. You will not be disappointed, whether attending as a family or strictly grown-ups. We went, and now we’re believers!