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Shrek The Musical

Published 15 June 2011

Once upon a time there was a book about an ogre. The book wanted to be a hit film, but most of all it dreamed of being a success in the West End. One day, it had a chance to make that wish come true.

So, nervous about the evil critics and their poisonous pens, which had left the dreams of so many West End shows in tatters, the hopeful young Shrek took to the stage with a storybook opening of sadness – What’s more sad than a child being abandoned? Two children being abandoned – and charm.

Like all good fairytale heroes, it tried to please everyone. It stayed close enough to the film to enchant the movie-lovers, but added enough theatricality – a brilliantly rendered dragon, wonderfully silly dancing mice – to cheer the theatre-lovers. It had all manner of bodily emissions set to music to tickle the youthful audience members, and it had references to everything, from other hit musicals to questionable gentlemen’s clubs, to tease guffaws from the elders.

But while Shrek tried his best to make his wish come true, the critics scribbled and the critics scrabbled.

Shrek knew that to succeed in making his dream come true he would need to wish upon a star… in fact he wished on four of them. He wished on leading man Nigel Lindsay, who is gruff as the angry ogre but best when finding the sweet soft spot at the green monster’s heart. He wished on Amanda Holden as a feisty princess torn between fairytales and feminism. He wished on Richard Blackwood’s fast-talking donkey and on the shiniest star in Shrek’s sky, Nigel Harman, whose knee-destroying performance as the diminutive Lord Farquaad, he knew would have the audience rolling in the aisles like discarded ice-cream tubs.

But while Shrek tried his best to make his wish come true, the critics scribbled and the critics scrabbled.

Shrek knew that he couldn’t survive the evil critics and become a West End hit by himself; he needed the help of his friends, the wonderful Gingy and Pinocchio – both puppety in their own special way, both shrill and both brilliant fun – a seriously soulful dragon and the varied witty songs of David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori.

Even with all this help Shrek was still fearful. As he looked into the audience he could see the critics scribbling and scrabbling. But he saw something else. He saw the hundreds of little Shrek fans wearing green ears, waving gingerbread men and cuddling donkeys, and he realised that no matter how much the critics scribbled and scrabbled, whether they praised the show or not, he would still be loved by the kids who didn’t care about the critics. He knew he would live happily ever after.

MA

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