Wednesday, January 9, 2013

REVIEW: Shrek (London)

Theatre Royal Drury Lane (London), Sunday December 23

On to the 8th show of my 14 shows in 13 days marathon. Now this is a very tricky one. I have been wanting to see this musical because I love the movie (I still have to read the book that the movie is based on) and also the cast recording of it. The last time I was in London, I deliberately missed it thinking that it will be a long-running one thus I will catch it the next time in London. Well, this was the next time and for sure, I can no longer postpone my viewing of it as it will close in February 2013 to give way to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical.

The musical follows the film closely. And because it is a musical, it was also able to give more back story of the characters and heightened the role of Lord Farquaad. In isolation, the different elements of the musical seemed to be not bad… in fact, quite good. Interestingly though, I just can’t understand why I came out of Drury Lane feeling flat. At first, I thought I was just “theatre-ed-out”… but when I went back to relive the show by listening to the cast recording, I realized that while the music (by Jeanine Tesori) is good, they didn’t seem to build-up the musical. The songs just floated happily throughout and only somehow climaxed with a 1966 song I’m a Believer.

The highlight of the musical is the production itself directed by Jason Moore and Rob Ashford which was hugely supported by the set and costume design of Tim Hatley. Imagine translating all those fairy tale characters onto stage! While the tricks were nothing new – growing nose of Pinocchio, vertically-challenged Lord Farquaad, giant dragon on stage in the style of Chinese dragon dance, exploding bird, flying dragon over the heads of the audience – the magnitude of both details and extent was awe-inspiring.

Performance-wise, Carley Stenson’s Fiona was a finely balanced character who is feisty yet charming and was one of the best performances in the show. Dean Chisnall’s Shrek was endearing and believable. Neil McDemott’s Lord Farquaad was amazingly dynamic though I wish he can be even more flamboyant. Richard Blackwood as the manic and dry donkey was neither manic nor dry enough… in fact, flatter than a gingerbread.

Overall, it was a very well designed production with a lot of happy tunes. It is a very good way to introduce kids to the magic of live theatre.

Creative Team:
David Lindsay-Abaire - Book & Lyrics
Jeanine Tesori - Music
Jason Moore - Director
Rob Ashford - Director
Josh Prince - Choreography
Tim Hatley Set & Costume Design
Hugh Vanstone Lighting Designer
Dreamworks Theatrical - Producer
Neal Street Productions - Producer
William Steig - Author Of The Book 'Shrek'

Cast includes:
Dean Chisnall as Shrek
Richard Blackwood as Donkey
Neil McDermott as Lord Farquaad
Carley Stenson as Princess Fiona
Landi Oshinowo as Dragon, Ugly Duckling
Jonathan Stewart as Dragon Puppeteer, Pinocchio
Jaynie Awcock as Standby Dwarf, Standby Young Shrek
Emily Carey as Dwarf, Understudy Young Fiona, Young Shrek
Jon Scott Clark as Dragon Puppeteer, Peter Pan
Ste Clough as Dragon Puppeteer, Pig (Sticks), Understudy Lord Farquaad
Ricardo Coke-Thomas as Understudy Donkey, White Rabbit
Blaise Colangelo as Teen Fiona, Tweedle Dum
Lucie Downer as Baby Bear, Blind Mouse Oliver Eyre as Knight, Papa Ogre, Pig (Bricks), Thelonius, Understudy Shrek
Alice Fearn as Gingy, Sugar Plum Fairy, Understudy Princess Fiona
Lucy Maria Gill as Blind Mouse, Humpty Dumpty
Clare Halse as Tweedle Dee
Bradley Jaden as Dragon Puppeteer, Papa Bear, Understudy Shrek
Aaron Lee Lambert as Knight, Pig (Sticks), Understudy Donkey, Walter
Marc Leslie as Knight, Mad Hatter
Alastair Natkiel as Bishop, Captain Of The Guard, Understudy Lord Farquaad, Wolf
Joseph Prouse as Guard, King Harold, Knight, Pied Piper
Ashley J Russell as Mama Bear, Mama Ogre
Lucy Tapp as Queen Lillian, Understudy Princess Fiona, Wicked Witch
Karli Vale as Blind Mouse, Bluebird, Fairy Godmother
Imogen Gurney as Young Fiona
Orla Gildea as Standby Dwarf, Standby Young Shrek
Skye Meade as Dwarf, Understudy Young Fiona, Young Shrek
Megan Manly as Young Fiona
Paris Price as Dwarf, Understudy Young Fiona, Young Shrek
Hannah Gurling as Young Fiona
Stephanie Bron as Dance Captain, Puppet Captain, Swing (Snow Queen)
Patrick George as Swing (Wooden Soldier)
Alexandra Grierson as Swing (Golden Goose)
Rosanna Hyland as Swing (Little Red Riding Hood), Understudy Princess Fiona
Grant Murphy as Dance Captain, Puppet Captain, Swing (Gnome)
Damien Poole as Swing (Jack and the Beanstalk)
Lee William-Davis as Swing (Wizard)
Kerry Winter as Swing, Understudy Dragon

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