Playing Donkey in Shrek The Musical

Shrek The Musical Photo: Helen Maybanks

Shrek The Musical Photo: Helen Maybanks - Credit: Helen Maybanks

Actor Marcus Ayton is having a great time as Shrek's wisecracking sidekick. He talks to arts correspondent Emma Knights about playing the role of Donkey.

Marcus Ayton plays Donkey in Shrek The Musical. Photo: Emma Knights

Marcus Ayton plays Donkey in Shrek The Musical. Photo: Emma Knights - Credit: Emma Knights

There cannot be many people who make a living by playing a donkey and being chased by a dragon every night - but that is exactly what Marcus Ayton does in Shrek The Musical and he is loving every moment.

Donkey - famously played by Eddie Murphy in the DreamWorks film on which the musical is based - becomes Shrek's sidekick on his quest to find Princess Fiona, and his antics and loveable character makes him a huge hit with audiences young and old.

'He's very wacky, he is that loveable rogue isn't he, that character that everyone just falls in love with,' said 29-year-old Marcus who is from Bedford.

On considering why Donkey is such a favourite with younger audience members especially, Marcus said: 'I don't know if it is because Donkey doesn't really care what he would say and that's almost what a child would do, they will just say what's on their mind, that's where the kids can relate with him, and because he's a funny character, everyone always warms to a happy, funny sort of character.'

Shrek The MusicalPhoto: Helen Maybanks

Shrek The MusicalPhoto: Helen Maybanks - Credit: Helen Maybanks

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Marcus said the elaborate costume he wears on stage helps make it easy for him to get into character each night.

'Because Donkey is quite human in so many ways you don't really think you are playing a donkey...but as soon as you have that suit on you are like okay, I am a donkey in so many ways,' he laughed, although he added that the costume does come with its challenges.

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'It's very hot! My costume is almost a onesie where it zips up at the back but I have got three layers on and it's made to look like's a lovely costume to wear but as soon as you have got the lights on you and you are running around and you have got the dragon behind you running, it's hot!'

He said developing Donkey's friendship with Shrek on stage is one of his favourite aspects of the show, alongside performing Donkey's song Make a Move in Act Two.

Shrek The Musical Photo: ©Tristram Kenton

Shrek The Musical Photo: ©Tristram Kenton - Credit: ©Tristram Kenton

'It's just such a cool song and getting to dance with the Blind Mice as well, it is just great, it's brilliant.'

And while Marcus was clearly born to be on stage, he revealed he actually almost followed a very different career.

'I did catering actually in college and I was like I can't do this catering thing. I can cook, but it just wasn't fulfilling me so then I went on to do a BTEC in performing arts,' he said.

From there the rest is history. Marcus studied a musical theatre degree at university before training at London School of Musical Theatre and has to date appeared in an array of shows including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in which he previously performed as the Calypso Singer at Norwich Theatre Royal.

Shrek The MusicalPhoto: Helen Maybanks

Shrek The MusicalPhoto: Helen Maybanks - Credit: Helen Maybanks

And he said he was delighted to now be back at the city theatre with Shrek.

• Shrek The Musical is at Norwich Theatre Royal until Sunday.

To book, visit or call the box office on 01603 630000.

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