Review: Shrek The Musical, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Andy Howells reviews Shrek The Musical, running at Wales Millennium centre from November 20-25 starring Antony Lawrence, Joanne Clifton, James Gillan, Brandon Lee Sears and Cherece Richards.

Everyone’s favourite ogre is back as Shrek The Musical returns to Wales Millennium Centre this week.

Forced out of his swamp by fairy-tale creatures banished by Lord Farquaad, Ogre Shrek’s peaceful life is disrupted when he teams up with a talking Donkey on a quest to rescue a princess from a castle guarded by a dragon.  Forging unexpected friendships and finding romance, the duo embarks on return trip of enthralling and entertaining adventures.

It’s probably the best part of a decade since I saw the original Shrek musical tour based on the successful DreamWorks animated film. I was delighted to witness this newly reimagined stage version and looking around me, I wasn’t alone!

Brandon Lee Sears (Donkey) and Antony Lawrence (Shrek) in Shrek the Musical UK and Ireland Tour 2023-4 Photography Credit Marc Brenner

Surveying a curved stage set that echoes the magic of a snow globe, the city of Duloc is brought to life with strong backdrop video projections emphasising movement and depth. Meanwhile, the multi-talented ensemble cast take to the stage as cartoon- like, fairytale creatures, singing and dancing their way through fabulously choreographed songs such as The Story of My Life and Freak Flag.

Heavily made up with prosthetics, Antony Lawrence gives a vivid and heart-warming performance as Shrek, encompassing humour and emotion. At his side is Brandon Lee Sears who literally kicks and bangs as everyone’s favourite ass, Donkey and even vocally leads a moment of coolness with Three Blind Mice on Make a Move.

Joanne Clifton as Princess Fiona with ensemble cast of Shrek the Musical UK and Ireland Tour 2023-4 Photography Credit Marc Brenner

Joanne Clifton brings sassiness, attitude and lovability to Princess Fiona in performance, song and dance. When Miss Clifton magically led the Morning Person dance routine with the ensemble, I was privileged to witness some of the most exciting stage dance choreography in recent years.

Also, Joanne Clifton’s hilarious chemistry with Antony Lawrence as Fiona and Shrek in the fart and burp-off sequence was embellished further with one of the most delightful, collected belly laughs from two small boys sat in the audience close by me.

The cast of Shrek the Musical UK and Ireland Tour 2023-4 Photography Credit Marc Brenner

Further enjoyable characterisations come in the form of James Gillan, who delivers laughs aplenty with his camp portrayal of the pint-sized tyrant Lord Farquaad. Also, Cherece Richards adds a welcome and enthralling extra dimension to the dragon in song and dance as a human embodiment of the stage puppet’s personality.

Topped off with a stunning song soundtrack and a rousing finale of I’m A Believer, Shrek the Musical is the greatest, greenest fun for all the family! It continues until November 25th.

For ticket details visit Wales Millennium Centre’s website.

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