Shrek the Musical
Photo: Steffan Harri and Amelia Lily in Shrek the Musical UK and Ireland tour 2018 © Tristram Kenton
True love in a fairytale
Raucous children shrieked with delight as they were invited to step inside a picture book for the story of Shrek at the Bristol Hippodrome on Thursday night.
This is the best of shows for children and those young-at-heart and the scene is set from the beginning when the announcer says Shrek will ‘fart’ on the head of anyone caught using a mobile phone.
I first saw this show in 2014 and had forgotten how good it is.
Colourful costumes, imaginative scenery, animated cast and fabulous puppetry the production is a sheer delight from beginning to happy ever after.
The touring company is playing Bristol until Sunday, August 19, and any parent or grandparent could not find a better summer holiday treat than a trip to the theatre to watch this show.
The success of the 2001 award winning computer-animated comedy film based on a book of the same name has spawned a huge franchise of follow-up films and this fabulous musical.
In the story, Shrek finds his swamp overrun by fairy tale creatures who have been banished by a corrupt little Lord Farquaad aspiring to be king.
Shrek makes a deal with Farquaad to regain control of his swamp in return for rescuing Princess Fiona, his lordship's intended.
With the help of Donkey, Shrek embarks on his quest but soon falls in love with the princess, who is hiding a secret that will change his life forever.
I took two seven-year-old who were spellbound and couldn’t make up their minds which characters they liked best…Pinocchio, Red Riding Hood, the Gingerbread man…the choice was never-ending.
Even the three bears, homeless pigs, trio of singing blind mice and the Sugar Plum Fairy make an appearance along with tap-dancing rats who had escaped from the Pied Piper, oh I am sure I saw a fleeting glimpse of large giraffe from the Lion King.
Did I mention the Cabbage Patch dolls or an exploding nesting bird which looks like a cute Orville?
The soldier’s uniform is fashioned on Legoland chic – plastic amour with pudding basin hairstyles.
And the biggest and boldest puppet is the Donkey’s love interest – a pink dragon lady.
A silver steed called Brexit made the grown-ups laugh when Lord F shouted 'whoa'.
Princess Fiona is played with the right amount of attitude by Amelia Lily who since X Factor has gone on to fame and fortune as an actor and pop singer.
While Shrek for dramatic effect has a Scottish accent (and tartan trews), Princess Fi who favours a sickly green theme together with the hotfooting hoofer Donkey speak with an American twang.
The Shrek versus Princess one-upmanship rivalry goes from swapping childhood sob stories to a smelly bottom burping contest.
This nearly brought the house down with scarcely concealed sniggering in the stalls soon turning to laugh-out-loud guffaws by all ages.
Shrek was played seamlessly by understudy by Michael Carolan on opening nights likewise Thomas-Lee Kidd stepped into the double role of the big bad wolf and Lord Farquaad's henchman Thelonius.
But it is Samuel Holmes as little Lord Farquaad who steals the limelight time and time again and Jennifer Tierney's belting voice as mama bear is a memorable moment.
All the cast took a well-deserved ovation after the finale which includes the song made famous by the Monkees which begins ‘I thought love was only true in fairy tales’.
For tickets from £19.50 click HERE.
PHOTO: The Fairytale cast. Shrek the Musical UK and Ireland tour 2018 © Helen Maybanks
Shrek and Princess Fiona on stage
Shrek The Musical is coming to the Bristol Hippodrome from Wednesday to Sunday, August 8-19, 2018.
Amelia Lily will be joining the cast as Princess Fiona for this date and as previously announced Steffan Harri will lead the cast as beloved swamp-dwelling ogre Shrek with Marcus Ayton as Shrek’s wisecracking sidekick Donkey and Samuel Holmes as pint-sized villain Lord Farquaad.
Amelia Lily first rose to fame on The X Factor, finishing third on the eighth series in 2011.
Her debut single You Bring Me Joy reached number two on the UK Singles Chart.
Her theatre credits include playing the Narrator in Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (UK Tour), Whatsername in the West End premiere of Green Day's hit punk rock musical American Idiot (Arts Theatre & UK Tour) and Shout! (Winter Gardens Blackpool). Most recently Amelia was runner up in the 2017 edition of Celebrity Big Brother.
The full company of fairy-tale characters will include Adam Baker, Ethan Bradshaw, Michael Carolan, Joseph Dockree, Will Hawksworth, Sarah-Louise Jones, Reece Kerridge, Thomas Lee Kidd, Amy Oxley, Jemma Revell, Lucinda Shaw, Sam Stones, Adam Taylor, Jennifer Tierney, Sophie Wallis, Francesca Williams, Laura Wilson and Kevin Yates.
Amelia Lily said: "I had my first taste of performing as Princess Fiona back in 2012 when I donned the famous green dress for a Children In Need special.
"It was an incredible experience so when the opportunity came up to reprise the role, I jumped at the chance.
"I can’t wait to set out on a road-trip across the country with all my fairy-tale friends."
Producers Caro Newling and Nick Salmon said “Following the huge success of the first UK and Ireland tour, we are delighted that Shrek The Musical is returning to Bristol in 2018.
“It was a joy bringing this much-loved story to cities across the country, and now, three years on and after much demand for its return, we are thrilled to be giving audiences another chance to experience the loveable green ogre, Princess Fiona, Donkey and all their fairy-tale friends live on stage.”
Director Nigel Harman and EastEnder heart-trob Dennis Rickman was originally played Lord Farquaad in the West End production.
Nigel said: “I had so much fun directing the original UK and Ireland tour that I jumped at the chance to work on it again.
“Shrek the Musical has created pivotal moments in my career – firstly winning an Olivier and then my directorial debut.
“It’s certainly become one of the classic family musicals of all time and I’m really proud to be a part of it.”
Shrek The Musical is based on the story and characters from William Steig’s book Shrek! and the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animations feature film.
Originally directed in the West End by Jason Moore and Rob Ashford, the production has book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, music by Jeanine Tesori with multi award-winning set and costume design by Tim Hatley.
Join our unlikely hero Shrek and his loyal steed Donkey as they embark on a quest to rescue the beautiful (if slightly temperamental) Princess Fiona from a fire-breathing, love-sick dragon.
Add the diminutive Lord Farquaad, a gang of fairytale misfits and a biscuit with attitude, and you’ve got the biggest, brightest musical comedy around!
Featuring all new songs as well as cult Shrek anthem I’m a Believer, Shrek The Musical brings more than 100 much-loved fairytale characters, plus a 14 foot dragon, to life in an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza.