Review: Shrek the Musical, Wales Millennium Centre

For one week only, you can find Shrek the Musical at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

It might not be the most obvious of choices for theatregoers, but it’s a hilarious family musical comedy that hits the high notes with a talented cast. In fact, it’s the perfect step into musical theatre for younger members of the audience.

The musical is based on the 2001 Oscar winning DreamWorks film, Shrek and follows the storyline remarkably closely. Add in a sprinkle of theatre magic with colourful costumes and musical tunes, and there you have it, Shrek the Musical on stage.

The cast of Shrek the Musical UK and Ireland Tour 2023-24. Credit: Marc Brenner

For those that may have not seen the film before, it’s the story of a mean lord (Lord Farquaad) who exiles fairytale creatures from Duloc to the swamp of a grumpy ogre – Shrek. In order to get back his land and return to his idyllic but isolated lifestyle, he must go on a quest for the lord to rescue a princess. Along the way, Shrek will get to meet some interesting characters, including a talking donkey – who is an instant hit with the audience!

Brandon Lee Sears (Donkey) and Antony Lawrence (Shrek) in Shrek the Musical/ Credit Marc Brenner

Brandon Lee Sears (Dreamgirls, Come From Away, Motown) is a bubble of energy and brings ‘Donkey’ to life with fun, curiosity and innocence. He sees the good in Shrek and knows he isn’t as scary as he looks.This story is one of love but also friendship between Donkey and Shrek and all of the storybook characters that we’ve come to know and adore.

Antony Lawrence (The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Matilda the Musical, We Will Rock You) has big boots to fill as he takes up the role of Shrek. After a twenty minute delayed start, the auditorium falls silent as the Plymouth actor’s thick Scottish accent captivates and leaves the audience hanging on every word. Just like the film, Shrek mentions how ogres are like onions they have layers, making for a complicated character. On the surface, he is grouchy, arrogant, discourteous and hostile due to his upbringing and how others have treated him. He has had to develop a thick skin. Inside however, he is warm and kind and has a good sense of right and wrong – the complete opposite of the evil Lord Farquaad, played by Olivier-Award nominated James Gillan (Everybody’s Talking about Jamie).

Lord Farquaad is self-centred and openly self-indulging, and sadly, friendships and goodwill are not values he holds dear. In fact, he is rather cowardly, and would rather Shrek put himself in harms way than himself to rescue Princess Fiona.

Brandon Lee Sears (Donkey), Antony Lawrence (Shrek) and Joanne Clifton (Fiona). Credit: Marc Brenner

Strictly Come Dancing and leading lady Joanne Clifton (Strictly Come Dancing, The Addams Family) stars as the beloved Princess Fiona, who isn’t your typical princess with her quirky behaviour and her own deep green secret. Fiona is on her own quest to find her own Prince Charming and her one true love. Although not off to the best of starts, Shrek and Fiona’s friendship develops and they soon discover they have a lot in common after all. Will they realise their true feelings before it’s too late? You’ll have to wait and see.

As we’ve seen more and more in modern theatre, especially musical theatre a projection screen is used to enhance the performance and give the illusion of movement. This also really makes those set transitions almost seamless, and shows how technology is being integrated on the stage.

Costume designer Philip Witcomb has done a spectacular job, our favourite was the Pinocchio costume. It had us doing double takes, as to how on earth they managed to make a person look like an actual puppet with wooden joints.

The ensemble was truly spectacular with an array of multi-roles that consisted of singing, dancing, character playing and puppeteering.

What I personally love about Shrek the Musical is how a variety of characters are brought to life in front of your eyes, live on stage. For younger audiences, it must be truly mesmerising to see fan-favourites jump off the pages and onto live stage.

The cast of Shrek the Musical UK and Ireland Tour 2023-24. Credit: Marc Brenner

Shrek the Musical features fabulous songs including the smash hit I’m a Believer, it’s the perfect feel-good performance for all the family.

A perfect night out for the young, and the young at heart, the award-winning Shrek the Musical is guaranteed fun for all ages and will have you dancing and laughing all the way home.

Come join the adventure as Shrek and Donkey endeavour to complete their quest, finding unexpected friendships and surprising romance along the way.

Age guidance: 5+ (no under 2s)

Start time:
Mon – Sat 7pm
Thu + Sat 2pm

Running Time: Approximately 2 hours and 35 minutes (including 1 interval)

Tickets start from £17.50 and can be booked on the Wales Millennium Centre website here:

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