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REVIEW: 'Shrek The Musical' by Savoyards Musical Comedy Society

Prepare to be captivated by the enchanting world of Shrek The Musical, presented by Savoyards Musical Comedy Society! This production will immerse you in the whimsical fairy tale, brought to life with exceptional artistry and detail. Under the dedicated direction of David Harrison, this show doesn't just mimic the essence and hilarity of the beloved DreamWorks film, it adds its own theatrical charm!

Once upon a time, there lived a grumpy green ogre... Add in a chatty Donkey, a spirited princess, a short-tempered villain, a cookie with an attitude, and a bunch of other misfit fairy tale characters, and you've got a recipe for chaos that requires a true hero. Fortunately, one rises to the occasion... and his name is Shrek.


From the moment Nathaniel Currie bursts onto the stage as Shrek, he commands attention. His accent is impeccable, and even with the elaborate makeup and costume, his vocal prowess and energy shine through. His interactions with the other characters feels genuine, making his character's evolution both believable and heartfelt. His rendition of "Who I'd Be" highlights his exceptional vocal range and projection. The Act 1 finale, with the trio harmonising under the moonlight, was a personal highlight that beautifully captured the show's emotional core. Witnessing Shrek's more vulnerable side in Act 2, particularly in "When Words Fail", peels back the layers (pun totally intended) of his character while maintaining a delightful comedic element.

When Kate Retzki took to the stage (on a beautifully-crafted tower) as Princess Fiona, the crowd burst into applause. During the iconic performance of "I Know It's Today," Darci Allen as Young Fiona delivered a crystal-clear performance, while Jamie Burstow as Teen Fiona was exceptional. And when all three Fionas belted out "It won't be long now I guarantee", I sprouted goosebumps all over. Kate Retzki's portrayal of Fiona is simply enchanting, combining the poise of a princess with the feistiness of the beloved film character, plus adding her own goofiness to the role. Her beautiful vocals and comedic timing bring the character to life. The performance of “Morning Person,” featuring tap-dancing rats and dazzling choreography, is basically a Broadway show in itself. And her duet with Shrek, “I Think I Got You Beat,” is a comedic gem, proving that true love can be found through burping contests and trauma bonding. Even when faced with a costume mishap, Retzki didn't miss a beat, incorporating the glitch into the scene. Her improvisation and professionalism shone through, solidifying her as the perfect choice for Princess Fiona.

Oscar Lowe as Donkey is a bundle of energy and charisma. His funky solo “Don’t Let Me Go” is a burst of musical sunshine, brimming with infectious enthusiasm and compelling character portrayal. Not to mention, how well he handles the challenging vocal and physical demands while adorned in all that makeup and fur! His dynamic interactions with Shrek injects his signature zaniness into the story. And his jam session with the three blind mice as he urges Shrek to “Make a Move”, is incredibly funky and entertaining, enhanced by Julianne Burke's inventive choreography.

Portraying Lord Farquaad, Josh Moore steals every scene with finesse, commanding both the role and the stage. His performance, executed entirely on his knees, is a physical feat that keeps the audience roaring with laughter. Through a combination of showmanship and impressive untiring vocals, he excels in numbers “What's Up Duloc" and "The Ballad of Lord Farquaad,” cementing his status as a crowd favourite. His absurdly comical segues add to the hilarity; a testament to the director’s attention to comedic nuances.

The ensemble of fairy tale creatures is vibrant and full of life, with each member bringing their character to the forefront during numbers “Story of My Life” and “Freak Flag.” Their strong vocal performances are a tribute to Nicky Griffith’s musical direction, complemented by the outstanding orchestra. Special mention goes to Nick Ferguson’s Pinocchio, whose comedic relief and nose-growing illusion are delightful, and Kat Suschinsky’s Gingy, whose voice acting in the iconic 'Muffin Man' scene had me in tears of laughter.

Joanna Nash's portrayal of Dragon is a force to be reckoned with, her striking red gown, commanding presence, and powerhouse vocals bringing a fiery intensity to the stage. The backup singers, portraying knights in pillories during "Forever", and the skeleton dancers during "This Is How A Dream Comes True" is like a whimsical scene straight out of a Monty Python sketch! The dragon puppet, a marvel of design by the props team led by Stephanie Bateman, adds a spectacular visual element, complete with smoke and pyrotechnics. Since there are no photos to capture the magic of the dragon, make sure to secure a seat and witness it live!

The visually stunning Iona Performing Arts Centre serves as the perfect playground for this fantastical adventure. The versatile set pieces, designed as triangular prisms, faciliate smooth transitions between scenes, transporting us from swamp to wilderness to castle in seconds.  Notable features like the vibrant green curtain, lush scenic design, mesmerising lighting, and captivating projections enrich the narrative as our beloved characters traverse Wynnum and beyond. Julianne Burke's choreography is full of energy, particularly evident in "What's Up Duloc," where the Duloc dancers radiate joy with plastered (definitely-not-forced) smiles. Kim Heslewood's wonderful costume creations, along with the dedicated team handling wigs, makeup, hair, and special effects, work together to craft an enchanting atmosphere that immerses the audience in Shrek's magical realm.

The director and his talented team and cast have crafted a show that not only entertains but also touches the heart; a delightful mix of family-friendly fun and subtle adult humour, just like the film. Despite the show’s long duration, the audience remained engaged, laughing and cheering throughout. The nostalgic grand finale, "I'm a Believer" had the crowd grooving in their seats, itching to join in on lively fun. While a late night may not be ideal for younger viewers, an afternoon performance is a must-see for families and early bedtime enthusiasts alike. So, grab your tickets, bring the whole family, and get ready for a magical journey that'll lift your spirits and maybe even squeeze out a tear or two (of laughter, of course)!


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