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REVIEW: Shrek the musical (UK Tour 2024) Are you a believer? I am!

Updated: Jan 29

15 January 2024

King's Theatre, Glasgow

⭐⭐⭐⭐


Shrek the musical UK tour 2023 - 2024

Wow, what a 'Big, Bright, Beautiful' surprise!


The giant but gentle Scottish green ogre Shrek is back on UK tour, and this new production of the Dreamworks musical really is Shrek-tacular! A considerable improvement from previous productions, the reimaged fairytale world of Shrek and his buddies is beautiful, bursting with energy and sure to enthrall audiences of all ages.


 

Grumpy green ogre Shrek is dismayed to find his stinky swamp overrun by fairytale creatures who have been banished from their home by the nasty Lord Farquaad. On a quest to reclaim his home, Shrek teams up with an unhinged but hilarious Donkey to rescue the Princess Fiona from a tower guarded by a fiery Dragon.


Antony Lawrence as Shrek in Shrek the musical. Photo credit: Marc Brenner

The overall presentation of this show is first class. The stage is stunning in every scene. Beautifully lit by Ben Cracknell, it's the little details like twinkling stars and the change in the sky to represent different times of day, that I really appreciate.


Fantastic video projections are used throughout the show to deliver scenes that wouldn't be possible with physical sets. The projection design by Nina Dunn is so successfully integrated into the production it feels almost 3D at times. The audience walk through the forest and across the bridge with Shrek and Donkey. It's so clever!


The projections are not overdone either. There is a fine balance to be had: We are at the theatre, not the cinema afterall. But projections are used here only when necessary, or to enhance the experience. And enhance it they do.


There is fantastic puppetry in the form of Gingy - playfully brought to life by Georgie Buckland - and the imposing pink Dragon - voiced by the extremely talented Cherece Richards. Along with a magnificent ensemble cast playing multiple fairytale characters, stunning costumes, impressive dance numbers, plenty of humour and some funky music, Shrek the musical is full of wonderful entertainment certain to intrigue and delight any audience.


Shrek the musical. Photo credit: Marc Brenner

Leading the new UK tour production of Shrek the musical, Antony Lawrence does a fine job of bringing the grouchy green ogre to life. Kind at heart, but short of patience - especially when it comes to annoying donkeys! (played by the wonderful Brandon Lee Sears) - this Shrek is just as funny, smelly and loveable as the film version your kids will be familiar with. Shrek's Scottish accent does come and go a little throughout the show, but that can be forgiven.


Joanne Clifton is outstanding as Princess Fiona. In her expert hands, Fiona becomes a spirited, confident, enthralling character who more than holds her own against the large personalities of Shrek and Donkey. Joanne has demonstrated time and time again that she is more than just a fantastic world champion dancer. Her superb voice and acting talents on show here prove she has more than earned her place as a leading lady for the stage.


Joanne Clifton as Princes Fiona and cast in Shrek the musical. Photo credit: Marc Brenner

Glaswegian actor James Gillan has long been a favourite of mine; I think he's exquisite in everything he does. I was so excited to see his portrayal of Lord Farquaad and wow, did he nail it!


There is some controversy that the notoriously short baddie is not on his knees for this production, but the character still worked for me. Not being on his knees allows Farquaad to prance and strut all the more; and being in flat boots, Gillan still seems somewhat shorter than Fiona, Shrek and almost everyone else in Duloc. We must trust that Director and Choreographer Nick Winston (Bonnie and Clyde) has his reasons for this decision. Saving the actors poor patellas probably one of them!


James Gillan does such an excellent job with Farquaad's accent, his hair flicks, his odious character, that absolutely nothing should take away from his remarkable performance. His voice work is simply exquisite. This Farquaad is hilarious, cocky and delightfully neurotic. Gillan steals every scene he is in.


James Gillan as Lord Farquaad and cast in Shrek the musical. Photo credit: Marc Brenner

The soundtrack for Shrek the musical has seen many changes since the show first premiered in the US in 2008. Many songs have since been cut, changed and added - always a sign of some issues. While most of the songs are fun, they are not as memorable as some classics of musical theatre.


With that said, the opening number 'Big, Bright, Beautiful, World' is great, 'Story of My Life' sung by all the fairytale creatures is a joy, Fiona's 'I know it's today' is fabulous, and the Dragon's big number 'Forever' is a true showstopper. Would you believe 'Forever' was not in the show originally? I can't imagine it without it. A definite improvement to the show.


Shrek the musical closes with the Neil Diamond penned, The Monkees classic 'I'm a Believer.' The only song from the 2001 film to make it to the stage. It's a brilliant way to close the show and to ensure that the audience are on their feet. "I thought love was only true in fairy tales... Meant for someone else but not for me." It fits perfectly!


With gorgeous staging, stunning costumes, a brilliant cast, superb direction and choreography, plenty of homour and enough burps and farts to sink a swamp, the new Shrek the musical is sure to be a roaring success. Playing Glasgow King's Theatre now until Saturday 20th January, and Edinburgh Playhouse the week after, this is one not to be missed!


⭐⭐⭐⭐


🟢 Shrek the musical plays Glasgow 15 - 20 January, Edinburgh Playhouse 22 - 27 January, then continues on tour across the UK before heading to London in Summer 2024. Full listings below



📸 Production photos: Marc Brenner


Cast: Brandon Lee Sears, Joanne Clifton and Antony Lawrence in Shrek the musical. Photo credit: Marc Brenner

 

Shrek the musical cast


Antony Lawrence Shrek

Joanne Clifton Fiona

Brandon Lee Sears Donkey

James Gillan Lord Farquaad

Cherece Richards Dragon


Leo Abad, Scotty Armstrong, Imogen Bailey, Jabari Braham, Georgie Buckland, Natasha Cayabyab, Mark D'Arcy, Jonathan David Dudley, Remi Ferdinand, Sonny Grieveson, Edward Leigh, Bethany Kate, Jessica Lim, Andile Mabhena, Bronte MacMillan, India Thornton. Talia Duff, Gabby Gregorian, Roy Shafford and Jamie Jonathan complete the full cast line-up.


Shrek the musical Creatives


Based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture and the Book by William Steig

Book and Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire

Music by Jeanine Tesori

Originally produced on Broadway by DreamWorks Theatricals and Neal Street Productions


Produced by Mark Goucher, Gavin Kalin and Matthew Gale

Directed by Sam Holmes and Nick Winston

Choreographed by Nick Winston

Set and Costume Design by Philip Witcomb

Lighting by Ben Cracknel

Sound by Ben Harrison

Casting by Jim Arnold

Projection Design by Nina Dunn

Puppet Design by Jimmy Grimes


 

Shrek the musical Scottish Listings


Currently playing!

15 January – 20 January 2024


22 January – 27 January 2024



Shrek the musical Listings


🎟️ Tickets for all ATG tour venues https://www.atgtickets.com


Currently playing until 20th Jan 2024

King’s Theatre

Glasgow


22nd - 27th Jan 2024

Playhouse Theatre

Edinburgh


30th Jan - 4th Feb 2024

Belgrade Theatre

Coventry


6th - 10th Feb 2024

Sunderland Empire

Sunderland


12th - 17th Feb 2024

Empire Theatre

Liverpool


20th - 25th Feb 2024

Mayflower Theatre

Southampton


27th Feb - 3rd Mar 2024

Milton Keynes Theatre

Milton Keynes


5th - 10th Mar 2024

Hull New Theatre

Hull


12th - 17th Mar 2024

Everyman Theatre

Cheltenham


19th - 24th Mar 2024

Theatre Royal

Nottingham


26th - 30th Mar 2024

Theatre Royal

Norwich


2nd - 6th Apr 2024

Grand Opera House

Belfast


9th - 14th Apr 2024

The Alexandra

Birmingham


16th - 21st Apr 2024

Millennium Forum

Derry


23rd - 27th Apr 2024

Royal Derngate

Northampton


29th Apr - 4th May 2024

Marlowe Theatre

Canterbury


19th Jul - 31st Aug 2024

Eventim Apollo

London


Shrek the musical 2024

 

🌟REVIEW: Shrek the musical (UK Tour) Glasgow King's Theatre, January 2024. Cast: Antony Lawrence, James Gillan, Joanne Clifton, Brandon Lee Sears. Musical Theatre.🌟


🎟️ Disclosure: I was invited to review this show and received a complimentary ticket in exchange. Whether I am invited or not has absolutely no impact on my reviews or star ratings.



📧 For media and review requests contact Lisa_InTheTheatre@outlook.com

📸 To see more pictures and videos follow @Lisa_InTheTheatre on Instagram


Lisa in the theatre. Scottish theatre reviewer. UK theatre blog. Glasgow Theatre. Edinburgh Theatre. Scotland theatre.

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