The drama unfolding on the stage reflects the story in the blockbuster Dreamworks movie, except we do find out a few more insights into the characters, such as how Shrek landed up alone bogged down in his swamp and how Princess Fiona survived over 7,000 days in the tall tower.
Freaky Fairytale Folk
We meet the colourful group of misfit fairytale characters - including the cheeky Pinocchio (Caleb Vines), whose nose just doesn't stop sprouting and the not so wicked but hilarious cross-dressing big bad wolf (Andy Conaghan).
We join Shrek and his loyal compatriot Donkey on a journey to save the green ogre's swamp and rescue Princess Fiona from the fire-breathing dragon.
Love The Layers
There are lots of laughs and catchy musical numbers along the way. And just as ogres are like onions ('cause they have many layers), the jokes in this production have grown-up nuances that had the adults giggling, while still keeping the kids entertained on a more innocent level.
I have been luckily enough to have seen this musical a few years ago and have never been impressed by the portrayal of Shrek. It's not an easy role to get right - the actor needs to have just the right dollop of gruffness and a whole lot of heart and of course a strong voice, which previous Shreks always seemed to lack.
Well, I'm pleased to share that in this show, not only can this Shrek (played magnificently by Ben Mingay) belt out a mean (as in AWESOME) tune but he has mastered the complex characterisation to perfection.
Photo: Courtesy of Shrek the Musical
One of my favourite toe-tapping tunes (and there were many) was when the heroic pair arrived at Duloc castle. "Welcome to Duloc" is an upbeat musical number that you'll recognise from the movie and it features the colourful soldiers of Duloc in a sychronised dance.
Lots of Laughs
The grand entrance of the short statured Lord Farquaad had us in stitches. Brilliantly executed with comic perfection by the fabulous Todd McKenney. McKenney will undoubtedly be one of your new favourite villains with his spot-on portrayal of the arrogant dictator. McKenney oozes pure talent in capturing this pompous personality and was the source of many saucy chuckles. And his costume, giving the illusion of the vertically-challenged leader, was genius.
Another stand-out scene is the dragon's soulful anthem, voiced by Queen of Pop Marcia Hines. Wow, we were blown away by all that power. And I loved the ginormous dragon 'puppet' which gave the fire-breathing creature so much depth.
Lucy Durack was a gorgeous and authentic Princess Fiona, giving the character just enough spice to balance the sweet. She brought quirkiness, fun and many laughs, with one of the highlights being the unexpected Vaudeville-style frolic with the tap-dancing rats.
Photo: Courtesy of Shrek the Musical
And of course, we can't forget donkey. Nat Jobe was the perfect pick to play the loveable, tough-skinned steed.
There were many memorable moments in the show but one of the cutest was the unconventional romance blossoming of our loved-up Princess and ogre. The fart and burp competitions had the kids (and the grown-ups) rolling in their seats.
Guaranteed To Make You Smile
The sets were impeccable, with some breathtaking CGI effects and the orchestra was the cherry on top of this five-star, glittering and ultra-polished production.
The show ended off on a high with a jiving version of "I'm a Believer" which had the whole theatre boogying to the beat. So much fun.
Watching the audience after the show, I saw the widest grins on everyone's faces and phrases such as "It was BRILLIANT!" and "I LOVED It!" were being enthusiastically exchanged. It's a show that just makes you feel happy and lets you forget about your worries for a little while. Now that is what I call pure magic!
So whatever you do, don't miss Shrek the Musical. It's only on for a limited season so grab your tickets while you can.
You can catch Shrek the Musical at the following venues: