Edinburgh’s Bohemian Lyric Opera company has brought everyone’s favourite Ogre back to Scotland, finally! After a two-year postponement, the Bohemians finally have their production on stage. ‘Shrek the Musical’ follows a big, green, terrifying ogre living alone on a swamp… he doesn’t sound like a fairy tale hero, does he? But then, this is no ordinary fairy tale! Based on the Oscar®-winning DreamWorks Animation film, the Tony Award-winning ‘Shrek the Musical; brings all the beloved characters you know from the film to life and proves there’s more to the story than meets the ears!
Andrew Gardiner is a fantastic Shrek, his sarcastic wit is on point and there is a sense of vulnerability with his approach to the character, which works in terms of the slightly altered story featured in the musical’s book. Vocally Andrew is superb, in terms of singing and also nailing Shrek’s accent. A notable highlight is Andrew’s lovely performance of the Act One finale, ‘Who I’d Be’. This is a fun portrayal from a very talented performer. Rachael Anderson is fabulous as Princess Fiona, her headstrong and farcical approach to the Princess brings great energy and a delightful presence to stage. Her rendition of ‘I Know It’s Today’ with Alice McAslan as Young Fiona and Olivia McGowan as Teenage Fiona is stunning! The three actresses deliver a performance which makes the London and UK touring versions seem poor. Rachael’s approach to Fiona embraces the comic side which brings a great performance to watch.
Alex Singh is utterly hysterical as Donkey, he nails the cookie talking donkey’s bubbly personality and even brings a more manic side to Shrek’s comic sidekick. This is a funny portrayal which is great fun watch, especially during ‘Don’t Let Me Go’.
Dominic Lewis is utterly hilarious as Lord Farquad. Dominic radiates camp grandeur and utter comedy gold as the small leader of Duloc. His energy, comic timing and presence is perfect for Farquad, and his singing is superb. This is champagne casting; Dominic arguably delivers the funniest portrayal of Farquad in the UK if you compare it to the West End and touring productions.
Rebecca Drever is jaw dropping as Dragon, her performance of ‘Forever’ is incredible, the sheer vocal power on display is that expected of an experienced West End leading lady. Undoubtedly Rebecca delivers the musical highlight of the full production, and even gets a standing ovation. This is a phenomenal supporting performance from a supremely talented performer.
Kirsty Hogg supplies the iconic voice of Gingy, Kirsty’s version of the character is very close to the original just with better singing vocals for ‘Freak Flag’. This is a fun performance to watch. Similarly Ross MacPherson wows audiences with his portrayal of Pinocchio, the counter tenor vocals on show here are very impressive.
Finn Hunter plays Young Shrek and Grumpy, the young performer does well to portray both characters, but his funniest performance is Grumpy where Finn truly embraces the age and disposition of this character.
The energetic and talented ensemble of this production are Maria MacDonald, Violet Beattie, Charlotte Dickson, Jessica Russell, Cathy Geddie, Greg McCafferty-Thomson, Russell Coid, Stuart Williamson, Caroline Jess, Douglas Anderson, Katy Williamson, Sheona Dorrian, Ciara McBrien, Kirsten Simpson, Louisa Everett, Laura Green, Monica Fowler, Shona Sandison, Chris Leonard, Matthew Tun, Jonny Farley, Samantha Doig, Pam Clilverd, Aliz Owolabi, Andrew Knox, Seumas Cross, Nicola Lister, Heather Roy, Greg Lamb, Susan Leask, Emily Lister, Gillian Reilly & Kirsty Tomassi.
Robert Nee directs this production, it is clear Robert has taken inspiration from the original Broadway production and has tried to update it for a 2022 (originally 2020) audience. He has mostly pulled this off with great choreography from Fiona Jackson and superb musical direction from Finlay Turnbull. There are several moments which work brilliantly and are more effective than the UK’s professional productions, however there are moments which are a bit clunky and faulter the pace, such as Lord Farquad’s (Spoilers) demise. Also, it seems that the humour has not particularly been a focus of the direction, as some of the text’s cues for comedy have not been utilized to their full potential. Other than that, the direction is sound and close to the original production.
This production unfortunately suffered several technical issues during press night which ultimately faltered some performances. As much as there was one major issue with mics which was fixed, there were many minor issues which really affected the flow of the production and also some performances. Such as SFX cues being missed, set taking too long to come on and off, costume faults, plus crew coming on stage to change set with lights up. This production has a fantastic cast and undoubtedly, the technical running of the show will improve, however, for opening night the cast were let down with technical issues.
Bohemian’s production of ‘Shrek the Musical’ has been over two years in the making and boy have the cast made up for it. The talent from some of the cast exceeds professional standards and also the expectations of previous UK productions of ‘Shrek the Musical’. Unfortunate technical issues plagued the cast’s opening night, however, hopefully the Bohemians will get their happily ever after and everything will run smoothly for the rest of their run.
‘Shrek the Musical’ runs till Saturday 19th March, get your tickets below: