REVIEW- Spellbinding 'Shrek The Musical' brings fairytale experience to Bromsgrove's Artrix - The Solihull Observer

REVIEW- Spellbinding 'Shrek The Musical' brings fairytale experience to Bromsgrove's Artrix

Solihull Editorial 15th Nov, 2023   0

BROMSGROVE’S Artrix may feel like a land far, far away for Core Theatre regulars, but St Augustine’s MTC’s spellbinding, hilarious and heartwarming production of Shrek the Musical is more than worth the journey.

This concoction of pure entertainment gave me, and I’m sure many others in the elated crowd, the most sublime theatre experience I’ve ever had.

The play, much like the classic film, sees Shrek (Jake Genders) and his tag-along friend Donkey (Solomun Smith), attempt to get his swamp back from Lord Farquaad (Matt Banard) by rescuing Princess Fiona (Sophia Gough) from a tower guarded by a fire-breathing dragon.

Shrek spends much of the first act as a lovable yet miserable and sarcastic loner, but as he begins to fall for Fiona we see him accept himself and find the love he’s been lacking.

Genders marvellously portrays Shrek’s more heartfelt moments with both sensitivity and humour, making his character all the more endearing as he attempts to ignite his stunted emotions.

Gough gives Fiona magnificent energy and an almost schoolgirl-like quality as she excitedly and naively waits for her textbook happily ever after.




Her performance of the dream-like ‘I Know It’s Today’ with the equally excellent Olivia McDaid and Emily Simpson as a young and teen Fiona contributed to one of the play’s strongest and most emotionally gripping vocal displays.

The two leads share exquisite chemistry and their back and forth in the inventive ‘I Think I Got You Beat’, where they find common ground in their troubled pasts, was all the more compelling for their great connection.


Smith, meanwhile, did far more than simply try and imitate Eddie Murphy as Donkey, he embodied all of his charisma and comedic timing whilst bringing a certain tragic quality to the role- for all his jokes, he’s simply desperate for a friend.

It’s harsh to pick a standout performer in a stellar lineup, but Matt Banard was so effortlessly hilarious as Lord Farquaad I had to give him the credit he warranted.

From his physicality and quirky line delivery down to his over-the-top bravado and marvellously petulant depiction of Farquaads ‘little man syndrome’, Banard may have just given the standout comedic performance I’ve witnessed on stage.

This play isn’t frightened to get utterly ridiculous at points and I love it all the more for its boldness- it even managed to make the sound of a bird tweeting tickle my funny bone.

There are simply too many incredible musical numbers to mention, from the side-splittingly farcical ‘Ballad of Farquaad’ to Shrek’s poignant rendition of ‘A Big Bright Beautiful World’.

The jazzy score of ‘Forever’ saw Siobhan Thornley channelling her inner Jennifer Hudson with a raspy, powerful vocal display, coupled with a jaw-dropping production featuring dancing knights and ‘dragonettes’ and a full-size dragon puppet.

Perhaps my favourite song, however, was the magnificent magical creatures all-singing, all-dancing ‘Freak Flag’ which sent a moving message to the audience and capped off a well-executed and emotional character arc for Pinocchio, played flawlessly by David Charter.

There was a beautiful moment during the interval when I overheard a woman saying how thrilled she was to finally be able to bring her granddaughter back to Artrix to watch this wonderful show.

And as I got to my feet to join in with the rapturous standing ovation as the sound of ‘I’m a Believer’ echoed throughout the theatre, the evening felt like a fairytale- both on stage and off it.

Shrek the Musical is on at Artrix at 7.30pm every night until Saturday, November 18.

There will also be a 2.30pm matinee showing on Saturday.

Visit www.thecoretheatresolihull.co.uk to book tickets, which start at £22 each.

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