Shrek the Musical - August 2014

'Love is only true in fairytales' belted out the brilliant cast of must-see musical Shrek which opened at the Bristol Hippodrome this week.

The lyrics of the Neil Diamond 1960s hit I'm A Believer made a fitting finale to this all-singing, all-dancing and all-laughing show.

Shrieking with laughter the first night Bristol audience loved Shrek the Musical.

The once upon a time show begins with a parade of colourful characters stepping out on stage from the pages of a giant storybook.

Performing in fat suits, wearing huge fake heads and stiff plastic armour or like the pint-sized prince on his knees draped in a black curtain cloak it is all wonderous.

And with the help of magical puppetry it creates an illusion of the cartoon characters from the 2001 Dreamworks film coming to life.

That is with the exception of Pinocchio of course who isn’t a real boy.

The West End and Broadway production, on its first ever UK tour, is first rate family entertainment.

When the stars seal their love in a loud and smelly farting competition the amusement of the young and young-at-heart in the audience is hardly palatable.

But this show is all about imperfect people – from the swamp dwelling Scottish Shrek wearing tartan trousers to the red-headed gauche Princess Fiona, from the vertically challenged man who would be king, Prince Maximus Farquaad, to a daft dancing donkey with a big bum.

They are joined in the swamp by the aforementioned long-nosed wooden puppet, Peter Pan with petrol blue hair, three hairy bears, a big, bad wolf who likes to cross dress, a Pied Piper with attitude and a Gingerbread Man who took the biscuit by singing and acting stuck to a baking tray and many more – phew!

Shrek and Fiona who are both cast aside by their parents at the tender age of seven are bonded by shared memories of a challenging childhood.

Heigh-ho even the hilariously juvenile Farquaad who was abandoned by his father, one of the seven dwarves, laments his lack of paternal love.

Shrek's ferocity and Fiona's night time transformation aren’t too scary for small peeps and the scenery is bewitching although the songs with the exception of the farewell number aren’t particularly singalong


Dean Chisnall is fantastic as Shrek, a role he previously played in the West End, and Faye Brookes is much better as the damsel in distress Princess Fiona than West End star Kimberley Walsh.

She reminded me of Princess Giselle from the classic Disney film Enchanted and the cameo roles of her younger selves are all excellent.

Although West End star Richard Blackwood’s clarity was superior than Idriss Kargbo as Shrek’s wisecracking sidekick Donkey his voice could have got lost in the acoustics of the theatre.

Clad in bright yellow tights and with Frankie Howerd-style mannerisms Gerard Carey as Lord Farquaad took his final curtain call standing upright having been the butt of many puns about small talk and lowering of expectations.

Full marks go to the puppeteers who performed War Horse style manoeuvres with a love sick dragon, the step perfect dancers and slightly camp soldiers.

Shrek the Musical plays until Sunday, September 7, it would be silly to miss it... 

Carol Deacon