Shrek The Musical, Belfast’s Grand Opera House, March 16, 2022, Theatre Review

By Conor O’Neill

Photography courtesy of Joe Carberry

We’ve all saw the movie, those with kids have undoubtedly watched it more than they would care to count, but let’s face it; the story is simple and resoundingly brilliant: good conquering evil Since its movie adaptation of William Steig’s book, the 2001 DreamWorks film was a cinema tour-de-force, thus Shrek has won deservedly its well-earned spot in the popular consciousness.

Based on the book and lyrics by David Lindsa-Abaire, with music by Jeanine Tesori, the musical has been doing the rounds since 2008. Now, what can St Agnes Choral Society make of it?

Joe Carberry Photography

A ton of fun, that’s what. Director Laura Kerr and choreographer Ann Marie Morgan have no less than 54 cast, puppeteers and ensemble all moving in perfect harmony. Quite an achievement considering St Agnes Choral Society is made up largely from amateurs. Take ‘amateur’ with a bucket load of salt. Most of the main roles are played by trained and seasoned professionals, and St Agnes was nominated for an AIMS (Association of Musical Societies) for its 2019 production of The Sound Of Music.

With such credentials the audience has come to expect and rely on the company to deliver the goods time and time again.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the last 20-odd years the basic synopsis is this: evil Lord Farquaad (Tony Young) exiles all the fairy tale characters from the far far away land of Duloc. From Little Red Riding Hood to Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Cinderella, Ali Baba, Peter Pan, the Wicked Witch of the West, Bo Peep, Rapunzel, Rumplestilskin, Pinocchio, the White Rabbit and the whole jolly lot are thrown out to live in Shrek’s swamp.

Shrek (Fergal White) isn’t too happy, especially when Donkey – ‘a GPS with Fur’ – turns up. The quest then begins. Simply to find a princess to make the Lord a King. But the princess has a secret.

Joe Carberry Photography

Enter Princess Fiona (Blathnaid Scullion). Well there are three Fionas, all of varying ages as the plot carries on, but Scullion has a voice that can only bring joy. As you would expect, all members have brilliant singing voices A stand out is the Dragon (Michelle Hannaway); what she can’t do with the octaves ain’t worth knowing.

And of course this is a musical. Music Director Colin Smith and his 15 piece orchestra are astounding; from the expected soaring musical usual fodder to the soul of I Know It’s Today performed by the three Fionas (Sophie Lennon, Lucy McNally and Scullion) to the funk of Make A Move by Donkey (Gareth McGreevy) and the Three Blind Mice, there’s music here for all tastes.

This show will have you swaying your head, laughing your socks off – the diminutive Lord Farquaad (Tony Young) is worth the ticket price alone – eyeballing the professionalism of the whole company as they swing in motion, the music and the general atmosphere of the whole gig is sure to have you well chuffed.

It’s a family show, kids loved it, adults loved it, and you will too.

Shrek The Musical runs up to and including Saturday, March 19. Do yourself a favour and buy yourself and your kids tickets. You’ll not be disappointed.

For times and tickets visit http://www.goh.co.uk or simply phone the box office on 02890 241919

ENDS

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