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Shrek the Musical review at Edinburgh Playhouse – ‘a slick production’

Scene from Shrek the Musical at Edinburgh Playhouse

Old green-lugs is back and as curmudgeonly as ever as Steffan Harri takes over the outsize costume for a new UK tour of Shrek the Musical [1].

Structurally, there are a couple of changes in this latest incarnation – the cute kids telling Shrek and Fiona’s backstory are replaced by a picture-book fairytale and the Ugly Duckling is no longer among the fairytale characters. But these are trivial and the show feels as fresh as it ever did, particularly in its second act.

Laura Main powers into Princess Fiona’s big dance numbers. Her Act II opener Morning Person, with its rat tap-dance sequence, is faultless. She has less conviction in the first act, however. I Know It’s Today doesn’t teeter on the edges of sanity as it might. Indeed, there is a lack of emotional depth to the whole act which feels just a little too slick.

The real stars are the hard-working ensemble, drilled to pin-point accuracy by dance captain Amy Oxley. Add strong vocal delivery and they provide adequate compensation for a score which works but is never special, even when Lucinda Shaw employs her huge voice as Dragon.

Tour director Nigel Harman has brought out strong individual performances too. Marcus Ayton adds a hilarious hiccuping bray to his strong physical presence as Donkey. Samuel Holmes positively revels as the diminutive, vaingloriously camp Lord Farquaad, working those little yellow pins to excellent effect.

Most important, that great underlying moral about loving folk for who they are – not how they look – is told with clarity and joy.

Verdict
Strong, slick touring production with a moral heart that feels more timely than ever

Production

Production
Shrek the Musical
Venue
Playhouse
City
Edinburgh
Starts
December 12, 2017
Ends
January 7, 2018
Press night
December 14, 2017
Book
David Lindsay-Abaire
Music
Jeanine Tesori
Lyrics
David Lindsay-Abaire
Director
Nigel Harman
Musical director
Colm O'Regan
Choreographer
Josh Prince (original choreography), Jacqui Sanchez (associate choreographer)
Set
Tim Hatley
Lighting
Hugh Vanstone
Sound
 Autograph Sound
Video
Duncan McLean
Technical
Davin Patrick (company manager)
Stage manager
Paula Salmon (stage manager), Nadia Javed (deputy stage manager)
Cast includes
Steffan Harri, Laura Main, Samuel Holmes, Marcus Ayton, Michael Carolan, Lucinda Shaw
Producer
Neal Street Productions, Playful Productions
Running time
2hrs 25mins