Shrek The Musical

"Shrek The Musical" is a lively and humorous stage adaptation of the popular DreamWorks animated film, "Shrek" and is quite simply Shrek-tacular, Swamp-tastic unadulterated fun!

This current UK Tour of the family favourite show stars Antony Lawrence as the green ogre Shrek, Joanne Clifton as Princess Fiona, James Gillan as Lord Farquaad and Brandon Lee Sears as Donkey, alongside a whole host of fantastic ensemble members who multi-role throughout the show.

The musical follows the story of Shrek, an ogre who lives in a swamp and finds his solitude disrupted when a group of fairytale creatures is banished to his land by the villainous Lord Farquaad. In order to regain his privacy, Shrek strikes a deal with Farquaad to rescue Princess Fiona from a tower guarded by a fire-breathing dragon. Along the journey, Shrek is accompanied by a talkative Donkey who becomes his loyal friend. As they encounter various challenges and obstacles, including battling their own insecurities, Shrek and Fiona develop a bond that transcends appearances and societal expectations. With catchy musical numbers and witty dialogue, "Shrek The Musical" celebrates the importance of self-acceptance, friendship, and love, while also poking fun at traditional fairytale tropes.

Antony Lawrence as Shrek was captivating to watch.  His powerful vocal was a joy to listen to especially during my particular favourite song ‘Who I’d Be’ which remains quite a tender moment in the show.  In fact, there is not one bad song in this show thanks to Jeanine Tesori (music) and David Lindsay-Abaire (book and lyrics).  There are plenty of humorous songs, including ‘I Think I Got You Beat’ which features some windy bodily functions that always makes the children in the audience chuckle, to ‘Morning Person’ performed by Princess Fiona which has an air of Mary Poppins about it.

Joanne Clifton as the Princess was quite the revelation.  Having only ever seen her performing on Strictly Come Dancing, it was a total treat to see and hear her performing in a role she seems to have been born to play.  The comic timing was on point and the vocals were outstanding.  Of course, her dance skills are a given and it was great to see this talent used during a couple of the musical numbers.  Brandon Lee Sears as Donkey provided that cheeky, funny and full-on creature with aplomb. Again, another strong vocal performance with ‘Don’t Let Me Go’ and ‘Travel Song’ being highlights. His performance alongside the sensational Cherece Richards as the Dragon to ‘Forever’ was mind-blowingly good. Richards has a voice of exceptional talent and elevated the sound to a whole new level.

For me, Lord Farquaad is one of the best characters in Shrek The Musical, and having James Gillan portraying this overtly camp, self-absorbed royal wannabe was rib-tickling throughout.  Gillan has that ability to exude comedy in every delivered line or movement, and it gets more ridiculous, in a fantastic way, as the show progresses.  You can’t help loving him, even though he’s supposed to be the baddie!

There are of course an assortment of fairytale creatures featured in the show including Pinocchio (Mark D’arcy), the Big Bad Wolf (Scotty Armstrong), Peter Pan (Nathan Ryles) and Gingy (Georgie Buckland) to name but a few.  Each and every performance was so animated and keeps the younger members of the audience entertained.  There are of course many important messages in the show, especially during ‘Freak Flag’ where being different is ok, a quality that is definitely true of the times we are living in.  Being accepted, no matter who you are should be celebrated and it’s done so well here.

I do have to throw praise at Jonathan David Dudley as the Pied Piper.  Opening his mouth and delivering his lines in his best Brummie accent was totally unexpected and really did make the whole audience collectively laugh. There were also a couple of local references thrown into the dialogue which is a treat from a show travelling the length and breadth of the country, making each location on the tour feel special.

This show is a complete breath of fresh air, it’s funny, full of fantastic songs, important messages of acceptance and you would be crazy to miss it!

This show was reviewed on the 9th April 2024 at The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham where the show runs until the 14th April 2024.  Tickets available here: Shrek The Musical Tickets | The Alexandra, Birmingham in Birmingham | ATG Tickets

Full tour details can be found here: Shrek The Musical - UK Tour (

Review written by Emma Rowley


Photo credit: Marc Brenner

You can watch our previous interview with Joanne Clifton here:

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