All singing, all dancing with amazing puppets and a wicked sense of humour. Shrek has grown into its own skin and was a wonderful way to fight off the rain-in-May blues.
I first saw Shrek during previews, almost exactly a year ago. It needed a lot cutting and some tightening up at that point, but has now matured into a real scorcher of a show. The set has improved immensely – now hugely impressive, with drawbridges springing up beneath the ogre’s feet, the dragon spurting what appears to be real fire and… Oh, the dragon! You just have to see it for yourself.
Most of the original cast have gone – Nigel Harman clutching his Olivier for his role as Lord Farquad (sigh… he was truly my favourite Eastender and the subject of many an adolescent fantasy…), Amanda Holden to concentrate on babies and BGT. Kimberly Walsh is a welcome addition as Princess Fiona (although Holden was great) – appearing to struggle a bit with the high notes but doing a far better job of ensuring that the slightly-potty side of Princess Fiona came across well. Kids don’t want to see their princesses as speechless beauties who dread getting dirty and have no opinions of their own! Hooray! Neil McDermot takes on the Farquad challenge with aplomb.
Landi Oshinowo as Dragon continues to steal the show. Her deep, soulful voice combined with a madcap character and the most impressive prop scene of the show (wait and see) are without doubt the highlight. ‘Forever’ is a wonderful song, and will see me looking up whether a London Cast Recording is available as soon as I put down my pen. My album is the Broadway version, without that song but with great tunes to generate an internal smile when stuck on a packed tube train or fighting one’s way through the rush hour footfall at Canary Wharf. They all look so serious in their suits and I’m listening to kids’ tunes… Hey, it makes me happy.
Surprise of the night has to go to Richard Blackwood. Last year he was noticeably uncomfortable, but is now well in his stride. He appears to have learned to enjoy himself in the role and has made it his own – no more obvious Eddie Murphy parodies, just a cheeky shameless Donkey. Wonderful stuff.
Get yourself along, it’s such a feel-good show. We got tickets at the last minute from TKTS on Leicester Square – £39.50 for third row of the Dress Circle (wonderful view), face value £65. I love that place. Happy weekend readers!