Review: Shrek The Musical at the Hawth

Tom Paine as Shrek. Picture by Stephen Candy
Tom Paine as Shrek. Picture by Stephen Candy

COS Musical Theatre are the only amateur group in the South East to be granted the exclusive rights to perform Shrek The Musical in 2019.

And the Hawth Theatre is very lucky they were given those rights because the show is a joy from start to finish with quality singing, sets and costumes.

Based on the Oscar-winning animation, Shrek The Musical is a Tony Award-winning fairy tale adventure that brings all of the beloved characters you know from the film to life on stage.

The story is about the titular green ogre (played by Tom Paine) who exists in happy isolation in an ugly green swamp. Suddenly, a gang of homeless fairy-tale characters (Pinocchio, Cinderella, the Three Pigs, you name it) raid his sanctuary, saying they’ve been evicted by the vertically challenged Lord Farquaad (played quite brilliantly by Jonny Jones).

So Shrek strikes a deal: I’ll get your homes back, if you give me my home back! But when Shrek and Farquaad meet, the Lord strikes a deal of his own: He’ll give the fairy-tale characters their homes back, if Shrek rescues Princess Fiona (Kirsty Franks). Shrek obliges, yet finds something appealing–something strange and different–about this pretty princess.

The best thing about the movie is the relationship between Shrek and Donkey (Dean Garnham) and the pair do not disappoint on the stage either - Paine (who puts in beautifully subtle performance as Shrek) and Garnham's chemistry is spot on.

But for me the standouts were Franks and Jones as Princess Fiona and and Lord Farquarrd respectively. Both put in note-perfect comedic performances. They had the audience in fits of laughter throughout with Lord Farquaard's costumes are quite brilliant and a joy to behold. Jones also has the funniest line in the show (I won't spoil it but it involves a horse).

The original songs are all toe-tappingly good - the upbeat opening song Big Bright Beautiful World is great, the Act 1 ending Who I'd Be leaves you wanting more and Freak Flag has a great message. But the standout was I Know It's Today sung three different Princess Fiona's - Young (Isobel Buche), Teen (Ella Vardy) and Princess (Franks). And as good as Vardy and Franks were in that song, I have to say I was blown away by Bouche's incredible voice.

But as always with COS Musical Theatre, it's not just the singing that impressed - the dancing was also great, in particular during What's Up Duloc? and Morning Person - the latter having a great tap routine.

The set is also fantastic - with a particularly impressive Dragon (who also has a song, sung brilliantly by Bethany Landskroner).

COS Musical Theatre's Shrek is a wonderful show full of great songs, plenty of laughter and a wonderful message. I'm definitely a believer in this fairytale.

The show is on until Saturday (Saturday Matinee 2pm).

Running time: 2hrs 25mins, includes interval

Tickets: £20 (discounts: £19). Child: £16.

For more information on COS Musical Theatre click here