Monday, 25 May 2009

Shrek The Musical - The Broadway Theatre, New York

Shrek The Musical
Based on the book by William Steig
Book & Lyrics: David Lyndsay-Abaire
Music: Jeanine Tesori
Director: Jason Moore
Choreographer: Josh Prince
Reviewer: John Roberts

Turning films into theatre seems to be the status-quo at the moment in theatre land, but why? Is it because it is a tried and tested vehicle? Is it an easy bet during the cloudy recession that hangs over us all? Or is it just simply because the best Ideas have already been used? Well whatever the answer is you can be sure that Shrek ticks all the right boxes and makes you leave after being entertained for two and a half hours knowing that theatre land is a much bigger, brighter and beautiful place because of it!

Originally adapted by Dreamworks as a family animated feature of William Steig’s children’s story that rocked the house of mouse at the box office are now going head to head again with this musical stage adaptation.
Avenue Q’s director Jason Moore has been brought in to take the helm on this project and his unique stamp of anarchic mayhem and fun that was very much instilled in Ave Q also finds a comfortable home here (and yes there’s puppets here too!.) Moore’s direction is tight and he makes sure the narrative stays focused and pacey, after all with fifty percent of the audience being under fourteen you had better make sure that you keep them engaged throughout.

The world of Shrek is brought vividly to live by Tim Hatleys set and costume designs, which are bold and bright and at times simply breathtaking, but staying very true to the animated world that we have come to love through the films.

Brain D’Arcey James is the man behind the green mask, and brings a performance of Shrek that is both warm and endearing, although maybe a bit too much – after all he is a terrible ogre with lots of built up rage, but I also understand that this is a family production and there is a very fine line between scary the living daylights out of a child and keeping them on the quiet and happy side!

Shrek’s noble stead Donkey (Daniel Breaker) Is played with great panache, Breaker is a powerhouse of energy and has the ability to draw your attention even when he is not doing anything, also providing us with most of the laughs of the evening is Christopher Seiber (who was last seen in London in the Original London Cast of Spamalot.) as Lord Farquarrd, his portrayal is much camper than the film and this only makes it even more enjoyable, especially when teamed up with the fantastic choreography that is given to him from Josh Prince that makes his costume come to life, how does he do it 8 times a week?

Normally Sutton Foster plays the role of Shrek’s love interest Princess Fiona but at the performance I attended this role was played by Sara J Everman – I am guessing as second understudy to Fiona, she hasn’t had much opportunity to perform the role, which did come across in the first few scenes, but once she had gotten into her stride her performance was fantastic .

This show isn’t the 24 carrat diamond in the pack of shows that litter the streets of Broadway, yes there are segments of the show that miss the mark – The dragon is a huge disappointment and doesn’t quite look like a finished article, however with a book that guarantees you are laughing throughout, which isexpertly delivered by a talent ensemble and music numbers that you will hum for hours after, I still have “I Know It’s Today” running through my head, what more could you ask from a night at the theatre?

For more info on Shrek The Musical - Click Here
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