Sunday, September 30, 2018


Book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire
Music by Jeanine Tesori
Director: Ylaria Rogers
Free-Rain Theatre Company
Q Theatre, Queanbeyan to 14 October

Reviewed by Len Power 29 September 2018

‘Shrek the Musical’ was designed to meet the expectations of an audience familiar with the story from the earlier film version.  It doesn’t try to be anything else and on that level it succeeds very well.  It’s a fun show for adults as well as children.

Based originally on the popular 2001 film ‘Shrek’ and William Steig's 1990 book ‘Shrek!’, the musical tells the story of a lonely ogre and a talkative donkey who are charged by the evil Lord Farquaad to rescue unexpectedly street-wise Princess Fiona from a castle and dragon so that he can marry her.  In return, Shrek will receive the deed to his swamp.  Of course, nothing goes exactly as planned in this fairy tale with a modern cynical edge but it all ends happily.

Director, Ylaria Rogers, has given the show a fast-moving production with strong characterisations.  Max Gambale plays and sings the title character endearingly and Joel Hutchings is great fun as the donkey who talks too much.

Laura Murphy gives a terrific acting and singing performance as Princess Fiona, capturing every nuance of this bright character who is all conventional fairy-tale one minute and hard-bitten cynic the next.

Martin Searles is very funny as the evil Lord Farquaad, mining every moment of comedy from his role and Tegan Braithwaite, who plays multiple roles, is a strong singer who is outstanding as the voice of the dragon singing, ‘Forever’.

It’s impossible to mention every individual in the cast but everyone down to the smallest role has produced a nicely in-depth character.  There is fine singing by the members of the large ensemble.  The period costumes by Fiona Leach and her team are colourful but the set by Martin Searles, while practical for the multitude of scenes, needed more colour and detail overall.

Musical direction by Katrina Tang and Ian McLean was excellent with a strong and appealing performance by the orchestra.  Unfortunately, the sound design had the voices over-amplified causing a shrillness and distortion that made the lyrics hard to catch at times.

This isn’t a show you’ll remember for its music score but it has very entertaining and humorous performances from a winning cast which will delight everyone from young to old.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast in his ‘On Stage’ performing arts radio program on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3.30pm on Artsound FM 92.7.