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Shrek lets its “Freak Flag Fly” in Belfast!!

“Shrek the Musical” took over the Grand Opera House stage last night, bringing one of the best movies now turned musical to life.


We follow the story of Shrek, an ogre who’s swamp is taken over by fairy tale creatures who have been thrown out of the kingdom by the villainous Lord Farquad. In a bid to claim back his land, Shrek and his new found companion, Donkey, are chosen by Farquad to rescue Princess Fiona, his future bride, from a dragon guarded tower. However all is not what is seems, Fiona is hiding a terrible curse, by night she too turns into an ogre, but this is a fairytale and soon love conquers all with Shrek and Fiona finding they’re perfect for each other! 


 The musical, written by David Lindsay-Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori leans into the fun tongue and cheek that the original movie had to offer, with added references to popular musicals in the west end and some delightful quips that are clearly made for each town they visit. Samuel Holmes and Nick Winstons direction took us on a magical journey. The set and costume design, by Philip Witcomb was eccentric, vibrant and pared seamlessly alongside the video design by Nina Dunn. Choreography by Nick Winston was sharp and blended well with the tone of each number and puppet design by Jimmy Grimes added the icing on top of the cake. 


From the moment we walked into the auditorium, the lights and sounds transported us into the swamp that we know so well. The hubbub of families added to the atmosphere as we all gazed at the book that was projected onstage, we were ready for fun! As Shrek, played by Antony Lawrence, took to the stage we were welcomed into his “Big Bright Beautiful World” through his impressive vocal abilities that only improved throughout the night, especially when we were treated to a new version of “Gonna Build a Wall.” The set of the swamp was incredibly realistic, and made me want to climb onstage so that I could explore what his world had to offer. Brandon Lee Sears plays a blinder as Donkey, his comedic timing is slick and he has energy to burn! That energy was closely matched by leading lady Joanne Clifton as Princess Fiona who especially shone in “Morning Person” as she sang, tapped and offended birds along the way, her quick changes from Ogre to Princess are definitely worth noting, and a real credit to the backstage team. 

Every musical needs a villain and James Gillan took over the stage as an all singing, dancing, and slightly taller Lord Farquad than what we are used to. The camp factor was ramped up to 100 with Farquad being even more on the unhinged side than normal, this balanced the new format as a man only looking to marry Princess Fiona to claim his title as King rather than looking for a true love connection. The best surprise was seeing a full size dragon take to the stage, led in the most iridescent costume of the night by Cherece Richard’s who leant her talents to the voice of the Dragon and Wicked Witch. 


The real treat of this show is the array of characters the ensemble get to play, they enter with a bang and leave us wanting to see more. I was especially impressed by Georgie Buckland, who’s vocal talents as Gingy, amongst other characters had her showing off her incredible abilities in the show stopping number that is “Freak Flag,” however the entire ensemble need to be credited for their skills at quick changing into at least three different characters each throughout the entire show. 


Although a long musical (just over two hours) the time seemed to fly by and soon we were all invited to get up and join in with a rendition of “I’m a Believer” at which point the entire audience were up and out of their seats singing and dancing along with a fabulous call and response from Shrek himself, ending the entire performance on a feel good high. You could truly see how much the cast cared about the audience, waving and blowing kisses to the children. All in all, a great show filled with fun for the whole family!


The show runs until the 6th April, tickets seem to be flying out the door so get them while you can via goh.co.uk


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