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5* Review: Shrek The Musical – The Lowry, Salford Quays

Last night Shrek the Musical opened at The Lowry in Salford and what a terrific, fun-packed, laugh-a-long evening it was.

The tone of the evening was set when the lights were dimmed and over the tannoy came the following warning: “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, would you please turn your mobile phones off and please refrain from filming any of tonight’s show, or I’ll send a green ogre into the audience to fart on your head”.

I’m certain that most of you are familiar with the story of Shrek.

The star of the hit series of films follows the ugly monster who is banished to live in a swamp at the tender of age of seven.

He’s brilliantly imagined by lead Dean Chisnall with a voice that reminded me of Robbie Coltrane in Cracker, and may I even suggest, Stevie McChops, man about town in Eccles?, and his camp, sassy, sidekick, Donkey is played with panache by Idriss Kargbo.

Princess Fiona, played by Bronte Barbe, is condemned to live in a fairytale palace until the day when her knight in shining armour comes along to rescue her, and not quite in the way she expected.

For me the star of the show was Gerard Carey playing the role of Lord Farquaad, the ruler of Duloc, a man with comically short prop legs.

He came across as a slightly camp version of Richard III, with sinister asides to the audience and wonderfully cruel one-liners, not to mention high-kicking dance routines with the aid of tiny legs swathed in yellow tights.

He actually performs nearly all of the show on bended knees and the comedy short legs are soon forgotten, such is the power of his performance.

The show breezes along effortlessly and I have to admit it is the first time that I have seen a duet between an ogre and a Princess performed with bodily function noises; use your imagination!

The jokes and songs come thick and fast, Shrek even manages to sneak in a few adult comments about Lord Farquaad, when he spots his huge castle with its towering spires asking, “Do you think he might be compensating for something?”

The sight of the gigantic dragon on stage brought gasps of amazement from the children in the audience, and what a voice!

We get introduced to a host of cartoon characters including Pinocchio and Mamma Bear who to have been banished to live in Shrek’s swamp, much to his dismay.

As we know all fairy tales have a happy ending and this is no exception, although I must admit feeling a tad sorry for Lord Farquaad, especially when his real father comes on stage.

The show has superb lighting, costumes, special effects and is a wonderful show.

The grand finale has everyone on stage singing the Monkees’s classic, ‘I’m a Believer’ a song that shows that there is true love for eveyrybody when they finally meet the right person.

I would heartily recommend this show to anybody both young and old, it really does have something for everyone and is a great night out.

I shall leave the last words to my 8-year-old granddaughter Taya who came along with me for support: “That was brilliant, can we watch it again?”

Shrek runs at The Lowry Theatre on Salford Quays until Saturday 20 February.

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SalfordOnline.com's Local History Editor and Senior Reporter.