I went along to see a special sneak preview of the Playgoers’ offering before the show opens on Tuesday, and boy did they deliver!
In the titular role – with the three leads double cast as a precaution against any illness or Covid-related absences – was Ben Gilbert and he perfectly captured the antisocial and isolated ogre, with a cracking singing voice to boot.
The jolly japes of Donkey will definitely have the audiences sniggering, and Derek Smith was absolutely delightful as the over-enthusiastic ass, a perfect compliment to Shrek’s grumpiness.
Princess Fiona was played perfectly by Kennedy Gardiner, who not only has a wonderful singing voice but also had wonderful chemistry with her erstwhile rescuers.
A special shout-out has to go to James Clark as the dastardly Lord Farquaad, who did a fantastic job of shuffling around on his knees to pay the ‘diminutively-statured’ villain, while still delivering a wickedly-sinister performance not dissimilar to Johnathan Groff’s turn as George III in the smash-hit Broadway show Hamilton.
This is definitely a show for all the family, with enough fart and burp jokes to make children laugh out loud and double entendres to make adults smirk.
There wasn’t a single weak performance among the rest of the cast, with some fantastic dancing and singing numbers.
Making it even more special was the use of a live orchestra for the musical numbers, which made it feel even more professional.
The last time I saw a production so well-performed and slick was on London’s West End, it was honestly that good, and the sheer talent of the cast alone makes it worth going to see, and for just £12.50 for adults and £8 for children, a fraction of the cost of a city show.
The production runs from Tuesday May 10 to Saturday May 21, with matinee performances at 2.30pm on both Saturdays.
For more information, see page 21 of this week’s edition.