BWW REVIEW: Packemin's Production Of SHREK THE MUSICAL Is A Fun Filled Polished Production

BWW REVIEW: Packemin's Production Of SHREK THE MUSICAL Is A Fun Filled Polished Production

Saturday 3rd February 2018, 7:30pm, Riverside Theatre Parramatta

The heart-warming story of acceptance and friendship comes to life in Packemin Productions' staging of SHREK THE MUSICAL. David Lindsay-Abaire (Book and Lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori's (Music) musical adaptation of Dreamworks Animation's popular motion picture makes for an enjoyable night of theatre for children and adults alike, remaining true to the 2001 movie whilst feeling more layered in its ability to address social issues and engage with a broader audience.

BWW REVIEW: Packemin's Production Of SHREK THE MUSICAL Is A Fun Filled Polished Production
Cast of SHREK THE MUSICAL Photo: Grant Leslie)

Most are familiar with the contemporary fairytale of the large green Ogre, Shrek (Jay Laga'aia), whose quest to reclaim his swamp from the displaced Fairytale Creatures is derailed by the nasty Lord Farquaad (Luke Joslin), leading him and his new companion, the overtalkative Donkey (Nat Jobe), to have to rescue Princess Fiona (Mikayla Williams) from a Dragon (Nikole Music) defended tower in exchange for the promise of regaining control of the swamp. Co-Directors Jessica Fallico and Craig Stewart have gathered a large cast to bring this story to life. They utilise more traditional theatrical stylings to indicate changing scenes and expressions of scale which is a refreshing change in an era of over engineered electronic effects. With the storybook tale, an almost pantomime expression, whilst remaining sophisticated and smooth, fits well with the story and allows the performances to be the main focus.

BWW REVIEW: Packemin's Production Of SHREK THE MUSICAL Is A Fun Filled Polished Production
Luke Joslin as Lord Farquaad and Ensemble (Photo: Grant Leslie)

Josh McIntosh's set design works well to allow for amusing rapid aging of characters as well as accommodating Lord Farquaad's diminutive stature to achieve maximum laughs. He ensures that Duloc castle is seen as imposing through the use of forced perspective and the journey to Princess Fiona's tower is presented with a 'simple' rolling painted screen. The set allows Choreographer Sophie Godspodarczyk to have ample room to fit the large ensemble numbers including an impressive Bob Fosse inspired mouse tap routine. Sean Clarke's lighting helps transform the stage from the gloomy swamp to the perfect 'Stepford' world of Duloc where the sun is always shining, and the ominous shadows of Princess Fiona's prison tower. Audrey Curries Costume Design and Karen Lamont-Barnett's makeup, wigs and prosthetics have combined to present fabulous expressions of the storybook characters. Jobe's physicality and padded muscles accentuates the excitable equine whilst Music's dragon is presented in parts with four dancers manipulating the puppet head, wings and tail to make a graceful majestic creature. Lord Farquaad's odd proportions are emphasised with regal robes enhancing broad shoulders and exposing spindly little legs. The large ensemble of Fairytale characters are recreated with an easy recognisability whilst having a more grown up twist for a number, from the 1920's flapper styled Three Blind Mice and the cross dressing Wolf and some ingenious work arounds for more unusual characters like Humpty Dumpty and the Gingerbread man.

BWW REVIEW: Packemin's Production Of SHREK THE MUSICAL Is A Fun Filled Polished Production
Mikayla Williams as grown up Princess Fiona (centre) and Faith Oosthuizen as Teen Fiona and Alaska Jarvis as Young Fiona (Photo: Grant Leslie)

This work is incredibly clever with grown up references thrown in to ensure the older audience are entertained and engaged whilst the younger audience remains oblivious to the double entendre. The musical styles, wonderful expressed by Peter Hayward's (Conductor/Musical Director) orchestra are varied, drawing on many genres and making reference to other musical theatre and popular culture icons including WICKED, GYPSY and BABE along with current social issues like cross dressing and body dysmorphia. The dialogue remains relatively true to the movie with the majority of new gags thrown into the songs which are catchy to the point that BWWSydney's 5 year old guest, bought along to gauge a child's impression of the show, skipped out of the show singing Big Bright Beautiful World. The songs have a perfect balance of upbeat and comic and reflective and emotion filled ballads to ensure the weight of the message of acceptance, courage and friendship is understood in amongst the flatulence jokes and height gags.

BWW REVIEW: Packemin's Production Of SHREK THE MUSICAL Is A Fun Filled Polished Production
Nat Jobe as Donkey and Jay Laga'aia as Shrek (Photo: Grant Leslie)

As Shrek, Laga'aia presents the grumpy ogre with an endearing undertone that ensures that the audience sympathises with him. Williams' presents the contrast between a saccharine Disney princess and Princess Fiona's true sassy self with a lovely command of the stage and great facial expressions. Jobe has a fabulous physicality and comic timing as he presents the hyperactive donkey. Music has a delightful gravitas and confident seductive expression as she presents the Dragon's voice and expression, aided by the puppet which remains by her side. As the pantomime villan, Joslin is hilarious as Lord Farquaad with both his posh voice and restricted movement ensuring that the aspiring king is seen as really quite ineffectual and compensating for both his lack of height and character. The vocals across the production are strong with Laga'aia giving Shrek the trademark Scottish sound set down by Mike Myers in the movie and blending in a wonderful world weary gruffness. Williams presents an optimistic Princess with a lovely purity whilst Jobe recreates Eddie Murphy's sassy American sound in both his spoken voice and vocals. Nicholas Richard presents the high pitched whine of Pinocchio wonderfully whilst Dave Collins, Josh Ridge and Cameron Bajraktarevic-Hayward present the Three Little Pigs with an amusing German accent.

BWW REVIEW: Packemin's Production Of SHREK THE MUSICAL Is A Fun Filled Polished Production
Nikole Music as Dragon and Nat Jobe as Donkey (Photo: Grant Leslie)

SHREK THE MUSICAL at Riverside Theatre is a fabulous afternoon or night out for young and young at heart audiences. Amusing on many levels and holding important messages of acceptance and inclusion in a world so often plagued by prejudice, this is heart-warming and hilarious.


Riverside Theatre Parramatta

2 - 17 February 2018

Photos: Provided by Production

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From This Author Jade Kops

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