Monday, October 1, 2018

SHREK THE MUSICAL - Free Rain Theatre

"Shrek The Musical" Ensemble 
Directed by Ylaria Rogers - Musical Direction by Ian McClean and Katrina Tang
Choreographed by Michelle Heine - Set Designed by Martin Searles
Costume Design by Fiona Leach - Sound Design by Dillan Willding - Lighting Design by Linda Buck
Presented by Free Rain Theatre - The Q, Queanbeyan Entertainment Centre until October 14.

Free Rain Theatre has come up with another winner with this delightfully quirky production of a fantasy musical about a green ogre called Shrek, who, through a combination of his efforts to rescue a group of disposed fairytale characters, and, well, flatulence, finds true love with a feisty princess called Fiona.

Max Gambale and Laura Murphy
Shrek and Princess Fiona
Adapted from the popular animated cartoon feature film, the musical features all the favourite characters, but with a lush new score of attractive original songs which are excellently performed by the entire company, accompanied by a terrific band, which under the co-musical direction of Ian McClean and Katrina Tang, thrillingly nails the big Broadway musical sound.

Excellent casting, colourful fairytale costuming and resourceful set designs, enhanced by impressive lighting and sound, give the show a magical fairy-tale gloss guaranteed to enchant younger audiences. There’s an cheeky, witty script and songs to keep older audience members chuckling. Michelle Heine has invented some sassy, polished choreography to delight the eyes, and Ylaria Rogers, in her first directorial assignment for Free Rain, impresses with her confident resourceful direction which continually surprises and delights with a succession of quite magical moments.

Laura Murphy (Princess Fiona) and Ensemble 
"Shrek The Musical"
Heading a topline cast, Laura Murphy, as the feisty Princess Fiona, gives an incandescent performance, lighting up the stage every time she enters. She can do sweet, is a ridiculously accomplished comedienne, an excellent singer and a captivating actress. Her performance alone is worth the price of a ticket.

But wait there’s more. Max Gambale, as the green ogre, Shrek, provides the perfect foil for Murphy with a finely tuned performance which, besides being beautifully sung, manages to be funny, poignant and charming.  Good performances abound in this production, among them, Joel Hutchings, outstanding in a cleverly realized performance as the Donkey. The duets and trios involving these three characters are among the show’s highlights. Then there’s Martin Searles, hysterically funny as the dastardly, vertically challenged, Lord Farquaad. His is a performance to be relished.

Tegan Braithwaite as The Dragon 
"Shrek The Musical"
It would remiss not to mention Tegan Braithwaite’s stunning vocalizing as the amazing dragon, Max MacMillan’s delightful Pinocchio, Tracey Noble’s Wicked Witch, Benjamin Russell’s upstanding Captain of the Guard, and Mitchell France’s sprightly Peter Pan. There are many other notable performances among the hard-working ensemble performing multiple roles, but you should go along and choose your own.

Laura Murphy (Princess Fiona) and Max Gambale (Shrek)
"Shrek The Musical"

Photos by Steph and Craig Burgess
This review first published in the digital Edition of CITY NEWS in 1.10.18