Shrek The Musical has opened in London’s West End and seems to have generally won over the nation’s critics. It’s New York run wasn’t a runaway success and producers must have been a little nervous on the press night. Lots of the New York production has been recycled, even Shrek’s green rubber suit… yuk!
Nigel Lindsay plays the titular green ogre, while Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden is feisty Princess Fiona, the female lead.
Daily Mail – Quentin Letts
Fairytale meets panto meets Monty Python. That is roughly the mix of Drury Lane’s musical adaptation of the American animated film Shrek.
It has double entendres laced with absurdist sarcasm and striking stage effects. Beware a low-flying dragon and three blind mice with sexy stockings and white sticks.
Children under ten may gawp at the spectacle with all its primary colours and plasticky sets, but they may not be transported to the kingdom of fantastical delight one finds at the best musicals.
Miss Holden’s voice is little stronger than a single gin and tonic but she has an attractive zest for the enterprise.
Daily Telegraph – Charles Spencer
Shrek received a pretty lukewarm welcome in New York, where it only ran for a year, and Drury Lane is a mighty big house to fill for what is essentially a glorified kids’ show.
But infantilism seems to be all the rage at the moment [and] Shrek will undoubtedly appeal to adults as well as children.
Amanda Holden is a touch too hard-faced and soullessly professional as Princess Fiona, while Richard Blackwood doesn’t come close to matching the comic attack of Eddie Murphy’s voicing of the talking Donkey in the movie.
Nigel Lindsay, however, unrecognisable under all those green prosthetics, charmingly captures the poignancy and gallows humour of Shrek and is genuinely touching in his search for love.
The Guardian – Michael Billington
Although Shrek stems from the 2001 DreamWorks film, it is genuinely theatrical, generous-spirited and mercifully free of the sensory bombardment that afflicts some of its rivals.
What one craves is a score that, as in Sondheim’s Into the Woods, defines the reversal of conventional fairytale values.
It says a lot that the climactic song designed to send everyone out on a high is I’m a Believer, which dates back to 1966.
Nigel Harman, despite having his real legs strapped up behind him and hidden by a black curtain, paradoxically runs off with the show as Farquaad.
The Independent – Paul Taylor
To judge from the giddy glee and hilarity the London version of Shrek The Musical is arousing in its early audiences, it looks likely that we are going to be clutching the all-green, all-singing ogre in a warm embrace for quite some time.
What I love principally about the show, directed with great charm and elating zip by Jason Moore and Rob Ashford, is its delightfully uncynical freshness of spirit.
Boasting a spectacular dragon with the ability to launch into fire-breathing flight over the audience and a taste for Tamla Motown, this show will appeal across the board.
As portrayed by the hysterically funny Nigel Harman, Farquaad is not just diminutive despot but a manically stage-struck wannabe diva.
The Times – Libby Purves
This show’s magic lies in wit, character and story rather than technology.
The seats are storybook cutouts and the vast female dragon is visibly worked by a gang of puppeteers.
Nigel Lindsay, with his broad, bright green but affably human face and his trumpet ears, exudes a benign Falstaffian loveability.
Holden may not be a top musical-theatre voice, but she makes up for it in energy, physical wit and an heroic willingness to engage in an explicit belch-and-fart competition.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.