Shrek the Musical

Aug 17 2022 | By More

★★★★☆     Captivating

Rose Theatre (Venue 76): Fri 12 – Sat 27 August 2022
Review By Greg Holstead

Captivate Theatre’s production of Shrek The Musical at The Rose Theatre is a case of young performers being better than their material.

As one of Captivate’s six musical offerings this Fringe – with a total of over 200 children all told – this well-rehearsed and supremely talented cast work very hard but don’t always succeed in overcoming the basic problems of a musical adaptation that simply does not live up to the films on which it is based.

Lewis Kerr and Kerr Mckinlay Pic: @shotby_rachel

Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay Abaire’s musical, which premiered in 2008, is based on the Dreamworks animated movies featuring the adventures of Shrek, the big green Scottish ogre. Unfortunately it features very little of the pop soundtrack music from the originals.

That having been said, the young cast have a very good stab at what they have to work with under the ever-assured direction of Captivate founder and artistic director, Sally Lyall.

The story follows hulking green ogre Shrek, played to perfection by big strapping Scotch lad Kerr Mckinlay, as he reluctantly agrees to rescue Princess Fiona (Sophie Holmes, alternating with Yna Tresvalies) from a dragon-guarded tower, in return for his swamp being ethnically cleansed of fairy tale characters by the diminutive Lord Farquaad.

balletically played

Along the way Shrek is befriended by a talking donkey, who almost immediately sees the benefits of having a muscle-bound ogre as a pal. Donkey is energetically and balletically played by Lewis Kerr, but more on Donkey – and Kerr- later.

A nice sequence uses crates creatively to recreate the buddy road trip taken by Shrek and Donkey, and you start to get a feeling for the growing relationship between the two, which is so central to this whole story. It is Donkey, more than any other character who allows Shrek to believe that he may not be such a monster after all. There are some nice set pieces here on accepting people for who they are, not what they look like.

The Fairytale characters. Pic @shotby_rachel

Lord Farquaad, played with hair-flicking fay brilliance by Oliver Payn, has the lion’s share of the genuinely funny lines, and he just kills it. In fact, this Farquaar may be better than in the original movie. His costume is superb and his little yellow legs and boots are certainly put through their paces.

How Payn manages to pull off those dance numbers and high kicks whilst all the time being on his knees is testimony to some serious lower body muscle. His first half number, ‘Things are looking up In Dulok’, accompanied by a bevy of talented dancers, is a joy to behold, with brilliant choreography and execution.

Another high point is the scene where Princess Fiona is seen at three stages of her life, young, teen and now, waiting patiently to be rescued from her tower. This provides a perfect opportunity to young actresses Alice McAslan (Alt. Millie Payne) and Maria MacDonald (Alt. Sophie Gee) to shine under the spotlight, and they, together with Sophie Holmes, absolutely nail it. The song I Know It’s Today, is just beautifully arranged and powerfully delivered by all involved.

real buzz

Any time the chorus of fairy tale characters are on stage there is a real buzz, which happens at the start and end of the show. As with many amateur productions (at times you have to remind yourself that this is one) it is when the hive gets together that the honey is produced. Particular mentions go to Jen Cassidy as Pinnochio, Ailish Barry as Gingy and Rae Crone as the mushroom-hatted Elf. With such a big show its hard to name check everyone, but rest assured, all do a brilliant job.

No review of this production would be complete without singling out two unbelievable singing voices.

As Donkey, Lewis Kerr’s singing is just frankly amazing: rich, full and wide ranging in a way that is unexpected on his balletic frame. It’s like putting a V8 turbo in a mini. He is revving here, but there is so much more power to unleash. And talking of unleashing a voice, prepare to be blown away by Dragon, Colum Findlay, who sings his horns off.

Be in no doubt, this show is a massive undertaking for any company, and a huge ensemble effort, from Lyall’s direction and MD John Hodgeson’s assured marshalling of the backstage band to Dannielle Logan’s energetic choreography and Charlotte Nicholson and Mairi Cross on costumes (lots!). Not to forget backstage, sound, lighting, rigging, make up and Stage management. Please all take a bow.

You made a believer out of me.

Running time: two hours (including one interval)
Rose Theatre (Main Stage), 204 Rose Street, EH2 4AZ (Venue 76)
Friday 12 – Saturday 27 August 2022
Daily (not Suns): 15:30
Tickets and details: Book here.


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