Tag Archives: Musicals of Films

Shrek the Musical – Theatre Royal Drury Lane

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!

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Sister Act the Musical – touring the UK & Ireland until 20th October 2012

Image from sglinsider.com

A great night out had by all – this is just the show you need to drag you away from the January blues.

In future I will always go to a musical on January 2nd, and the more gleeful, glittery and fun the better. The touring version of Sister Act is in Dublin until the end of the week, when it will return to the UK, hitting venues form Bristol to Aberdeen right up to October. See here for tour dates near you. It will certainly take you far away from returning to work/compiling tax returns/attempting to pay Christmas credit card bills. The thrills of January!

The main energy in this production comes from the big ensemble numbers, joyfully combining disco, soul and gospel. As a virgin to the soundtrack, I could still happily hum ‘Raise Your Voice’ 24 hours later, and my eyes are still slightly blinking from the glittering reflections from the costumes.

It’s not just glitz and catchy tunes, though – the story taken from the 1992 film still delivers and the characters are still strong. Topped off with music that will have you digging out your copy of the Dreamgirls soundtrack (no bad thing in my book), the parts all sum together for a good-natured, enjoyable, if not ground-breaking, evening.

Small bugbears were that the male leads were unconvincing – Curtis never seemed convincingly menacing enough to warrant Delores downing her glad rags, and the romance between her and ‘Sweaty Eddie’ generated less chemistry than can probably be seen between Ashton and Demi these days… However, the supporting actors in Curtis’ gang generated some belly laughs, as did the sisters singing ‘It’s Good to Be a Nun’. Julie Atherton shone as Sister Mary Robert with a great song ‘The Life I Never Led’, which I can see becoming a cabaret staple for musical-theatre inclined soloists (first dibs to me, please!).

In sum, a good, solid show with flashes of brilliance and cheer aplenty – you could do a lot worse, and this one’s definitely a crowd-pleaser. Happy new year, readers!

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