REVIEW: Shrek the Musical at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle

ON STAGE ... Shrek The Musical is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal. Dean Chisnall as Shrek and Faye Brookes as Princess Fiona.
ON STAGE ... Shrek The Musical is at Newcastle's Theatre Royal. Dean Chisnall as Shrek and Faye Brookes as Princess Fiona.

Grey Street goes green to welcome a special character this month - and judging from the audience’s response tonight, the North East could be his home.

The highly-anticipated, larger-than-life, musical attraction Shrek the Musical that is full of flatulence and fun has arrived at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal.

The show firmly replicates the hit Dreamworks Hollywood blockbuster that follows a big green ogre and an unlikely tale of friendship, trust and eventually love.

But the musical version takes a closer look at the troubled lives of Shrek (Dean Chisnall) and Princess Fiona (Faye Brookes), who are pitted together by the hilariously brilliant Lord Farquad played by a larger-than-life Gerard Carey.

The show is held together by a magically brilliant company which bring the necessary energy to hold up some of its hardest musical numbers. But the fun and games don’t stop there.

Children will fall in love with the striking costumes and latex which do not disappoint. The set, which has been specially designed for the tour, transformed the Royal into a stunningly complex dream sequence which enraptured the audience throughout.

As far as performances were concerned, Faye Brookes is a fearless, fun and feisty Fiona and all credit to the production team for avoiding a drastic celebrity casting while performers like Brookes are perfectly capable in the lead roles. But Gerard Carey steals the show from under their noses. He is show-stoppingly hilarious as the vertically-challenged Lord Farquad.

The fairytale folk are well defined and the appearance of the dragon, which looked like a magical version of War Horse, stunned the audience.

The design (Tim Hatley) and lighting (Hugh Vanstone) drew the audience in and the original score (Jeanine Tesori), for me, saves the show from falling into a juke-box catastrophe, but the show does dangle on a fine line.

The second act picked up the pace and, with a more receptive audience, the next thing you know, we’re being sung out with a classic pop song by The Monkees which made the film famous. I particularly enjoyed references to various musicals from Gypsy to Wicked and Lion King to Les Mis which keep the musical theatre geeks like myself entertained.

Shrek runs until Sunday, March 29, and this show is 100 per cent suitable for all ages, even dad! Visit www.the atreroyal.co.uk to find out more.

Michael Pearson