Shrek is the film of a generation, and for my generation, not liking Shrek is almost as bad as liking the Tories (who are represented in-universe by Lord Farquaad). Based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks film, the Broadway and West End smash hit Shrek the Musical is a fun-filled and hilarious musical comedy with a cast of vibrant characters and a ‘shrektacular’ score.
The musical premiered in Seattle in 2008 and transferred to Broadway that same year, though extensive changes were made. It was followed by a US tour in 2010. A revised and scaled-down production opened on the West End in 2011, with UK tours opening in 2014 and 2017. But this latest UK tour is a brand-new production from the producers of Hairspray.
The cast is led by well-known theatre actor Anthony Lawrence, who has big boots (like really fricken big, ogre-big) to fill.
The female lead, Princess Fiona, is played by Strictly-turned-musical-theatre star Joanne Clifton, who we have interviewed during rehearsals. We previously reviewed her as Janet Weiss in The Rocky Horror Show and Morticia Addams in The Addams Family; she has become something of a character actress.
The man-child antagonist, Boris Johnson – I mean Lord Farquaad – is played by Olivier nominee James Gillan. Gillan’s credits include the original UK tours of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Starlight Express, and Taboo; the original West End cast of Tommy (which earned him an Olivier nomination); and the original cast of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
Shrek’s sassy sidekick and everybody’s favourite character, Donkey, is played by Brandon Lee Sears. Sears starred in the original UK casts of Motown and Come From Away, the original West End casts of Heathers and Be More Chill, and the original UK tour of Dreamgirls – the latter of which we reviewed.
The cast also includes Gabriela Gregorian, who is 1/3 of the Gregorian Sisters.
So, make a visit to the wet, depressing swamp this summer (no, I’m not talking about Manchester) and spend a night with Shrek, his friends, and a tyrannical man-child who just won’t go away.
Shrek the Musicals runs at Opera House Manchester from August 1 to 12 2023.