Review: Shrek, Bradford Alhambra

Shrek the Musical is on tour around the UK.
Shrek the Musical is on tour around the UK.
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When you take a film and turn it into a stage show, the result can be magical. Some films are perfectly suited - Dirty Dancing, for example, might have been written to go on stage, with that magical dance floor denouement.

Other films simply don’t have the story to sustain serious stage time. Shrek is a classic story of a hero going on a journey. As the folk behind Lord of the Rings the stage play discovered, characters going on a literal journey doesn’t really work on stage.

All of this has to come with a caveat - and that is that it can work, if your characters are big and bold enough to sustain an audience’s interest.

With Shrek, Dreamworks created a set of characters so lovable, that audiences will be happy to spend time with them even when they are, essentially, just walking about.

Shrek, the ogre with a heart buried beneath a gruff exterior, Donkey, the over-enthusiastic travelling pal to Shrek, Princess Fiona who has a night-time secret and even the Lord Farquaad, the diminutive tyrant with a giant ego, all make it into this stage version. Even the cast of fairytales, the Gingerbread Man included, appear.

The production is enormous amounts of fun. It does lose something in the translation to the stage - one of the reasons the film was so successful was because of the subversion that allowed adults to enjoy it as much as children. This production is aimed squarely at the younger audience, with its bright colours, jokes about bodily functions and original songs.

The production hangs on the large shoulders of Dean Chisnall, who has an endearing presence, but he receives brilliant support from Idriss Kargbo as Donkey and a scene stealing turn from Gerard Carey who takes what has to be one of the hardest roles in musical theatre of Lord Farquaad, given that he spends almost all of the production literally on his knees.

To Sept 27.