Shrek the Musical Review: The Palace Theatre

Abi White | 18th January 2018

‘Once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away’, ‘Shrek the Musical’ visited the Palace Theatre last night for it’s Manchester leg of the tour.


Running until the 28th January, the hit musical, based on the award winning 2001 Dreamworks classic ‘Shrek’, is one entertaining masterpiece certainly fit for all the family.


Injected with fun, the storyline still runs closely along the basic idea of the film. A green ogre falls in love with an extremely sassy princess (who calls herself ‘bipolar’) after rescuing her from a tower protected by a fire-breathing dragon, encountering new acquaintances and villains along the way.


Whilst making a mockery of traditional fairy tales that can also be seen in the film, the musical adaptation also adds subtle comic mockeries of typical musicals, from ‘The Lion King’ to ‘Les Miserables’, making keen theatre-goers chuckle amongst themselves.

Laura Main as Princess Fiona and Steffan Harri as Shrek. Shrek the Musical. Credit Helen Maybanks

However, the musical storyline does differ slightly, by delving more into the back-stories of the characters. As the musical opens, (for the second time after a technical glitch) the life of a young Shrek is exposed to the audience through a large opened book, telling the story of how they found themselves to be in the position that they are now in their adult lives.


The audience are then met with a vibrant cast, who do not cease to amaze with their talent and enthusiasm showcased throughout the entire musical. As well as following alongside the 2001 ‘Shrek’, it could somewhat be argued that the production has also been ‘modernised’ to today’s society, certainly adding humour to the production, with reference to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and Lord Farquard entering on a plastic horse instead of a ‘noble steed’.

Marcus Ayton as Donkey. Shrek the Musical. Credit Helen Maybanks

With larger than life characters in the film, it would be difficult to think that the cast would be able to live up to these personalities. However, the personalities exceeded expectations, and even exceeded the film characters. The audience learn more about Shrek’s home and romantic life (played by Steffan Harri), Fiona’s hilariously funny temperament (played by Laura Main) and Donkey’s talkative and child-like excitement is certainly well played by Marcus Ayton.


However, the previous opinions audience members may have had on the villain, Lord Farquard, certainly will have been changed. From being viewed as the evil villain, the exceptional comedy performance (played by Samuel Holmes) transformed the evil villain into a comical character. My personal favourite character in the show, there was never a dull moment when this character was on stage. The comical one-liners and expressions certainly made his performance one of the best.

Samuel Holmes as Lord Farquaad. Shrek the Musical. Credit Helen Maybanks

Not only were the adaptations of the characters fantastic, but also the sets and props during the show were impeccable. The frequent backdrop changes flowed smoothly into one another, creating one great scene after another. The movement of the dragon through use of props and dancers was carried out so eloquently, making it one of the standout scenes with use of props of the performance.


The brilliantly eccentric costumes also added more humour into the performance, making it a work of fun, art and comedy throughout the performance. Although generating humour through inference and childish flatulence jokes, it is undoubtedly appealingly funny to any age.


Not only does the musical provide excellent humour, talent and fun throughout, it reminds us that no matter how much of an ‘odd-bod’ you really are, you can still find love with excellent friends and family. After tonight’s performance, this is definitely up there in my favourite musicals- a fabulous fun-filled evening had by all.