Shrek the Musical review: A monster hit for the family at Sunderland Empire

Shrek the Musical runs at the Sunderland Empire until Saturday, February 10.
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Shrek the Musical made its debut on February 6th at Sunderland Empire, painting the town green.

This theatrical rendition of the 2001 Dreamworks classic breathes life into beloved characters, infusing the stage with vibrant energy and irresistible magic. Transporting audiences to a fantastical realm filled with ogres, princesses, and talking donkeys, it promises an enchanting journey through the beloved fairy tale.

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We journey alongside Shrek, an ogre who resides alone in a swamp, ostracized by his family since childhood. His solitude is disrupted when a horde of fairy tale creatures, exiled to his domain, forces him into action. To reclaim his peace, Shrek undertakes the task of rescuing Princess Fiona. As the adventure unfolds, we peel back the layers of Shrek's character, revealing a creature yearning for acceptance and to be free of judgement. 

A highlight of Shrek the Musical lies in its dynamic cast. Antony Lawrence stars in the titular role of Shrek, fully embodying the character and giving him an undeniable charm. His performance is complemented by former Strictly Come Dancing professional Joanne Clifton, who harnesses the feistiness of Princess Fiona. Lawrence and Clifton exhibit comedic chemistry, particularly evident in songs like 'I Think I Got You Beat,' where the characters engage in a humorous competition of flatulence.

Antony Lawrence as Shrek.Antony Lawrence as Shrek.
Antony Lawrence as Shrek.

Brandon Lee Sears breathed life into the beloved comedic character of Donkey, showcasing impressive vocal talents in numbers like 'Don't Let Me Go.' Sears delighted with his acrobatic flair and deadpan delivery. Similarly, James Gillan brought a unique interpretation to the role of Lord Farquaad, choosing to abandon the traditional stage depiction of the character on his knees. Gillan opted for an exaggeratedly camp comedic style, characterised by constant hair flicks and toe kicks. 

Central to every musical is its ensemble, and among them is Cherece Richards, who took on the role of Dragon. Richards not only captivates with her breath-taking vocals in the song 'Forever' but also dazzles with her chic and sparkling costume.

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Shrek the Musical is a perfect choice for families, embodying the essence of timeless fairy tales. Its appeal spans across all age groups, thanks to its lively choreography and imaginative projections that whisk audiences into a realm of 'Happy Ever Afters.' Building towards a natural fairy tale conclusion, the show culminates with an electrifying rendition of "I'm a Believer," bringing audiences to their feet and singing along in pure delight.

Shrek the Musical plays at Sunderland Empire until February 10 and continues its tour throughout the UK until April 2024. Further information and tickets can be found here.