Review: Shrek the Musical, Theatre Royal, Norwich

Dean Chisnall (Shrek) and Faye Brookes (Princess Fiona). Photo: Helen Maybanks.

Dean Chisnall (Shrek) and Faye Brookes (Princess Fiona). Photo: Helen Maybanks. - Credit: Helen Maybanks

When the animated film version of Shrek first hit cinema screens in 2001, few could have predicted it would have taken the stage by storm a decade and a half later.

But that is exactly what this lovable, larger-than-life character has done. With his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the monster success story is enough to even turn the Incredible Hulk, well, green with envy.

And on the evidence of last night's performance of Shrek the Musical the stage version is every bit of a sensation as the DreamWorks animation and its three sequels.

Coming from the West End, Shrek the Musical, which opened in Broadway in 2008, has landed in Norwich until the end of the month.

The show, directed by actor Nigel Harman, who is best known for playing Dennis Rickman in EastEnders, is a sensory smash – a visual feast of family fun.

Right from the moment the world's friendliest ogre, played Dean Chisnall, makes his entrance to the stage from the pages of a giant storybook there is no let-up in the comic capers.

We had Pinocchio, The Three Little Pigs, Peter Pan, The Gingerbread Man and the Pied Piper among the colourful cast.

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But leading the action was Chisnall, reprising the role he played in the West End, and who is joined on stage by Faye Brookes, as Princess Fiona, and Idriss Kargbo as Donkey.

The three of them demonstrated a delightful chemistry on stage with their performances, all the more enhanced because none of them took themselves too seriously.

But while the trio shone in the spotlight it is arguably Gerard Carey who stole the limelight as the dastardly but diminutive Lord Farquaad, who was short in stature but gave a giant comic performance that was full of energy and laugh-out-loud moments.

As always at the Theatre Royal the set dazzled too, with the dragon a particular highlight of what was an all-singing, all-dancing spectacular culminating in a rousing rendition of I'm a Believer.

The hype surrounding this larger-than-life production is by no means ogre-rated – it really is a must-see production for all the family.

• Shrek the Musical runs at the Theatre Royal until June 28. To book call the box office on 01603 630000.

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