Flashback to 2020 when we were meant to see Quarry Bank Musical Theatre Society and their local premiere production of Shrek The Musical. One pandemic, many restrictions and lockdowns later and here we are, years of anticipation to see this wonderful company come together again.
Based on the popular Oscar winning DreamWorks film, Shrek The Musical features all the classic and beloved characters of the film set alongside songs and story from David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori in their original musical. Shrek The Musical was first performed on Broadway in 2008, receiving 8 Tony nominations, and the award for best costume design. The original West End production was nominated for four Olivier awards in 2012, including Best New Musical. For those who aren’t familiar with the popular film, the story follows Shrek, a green and feared ogre, whose beloved swamp is invaded by homeless fairy-tale characters after they have been evicted from Duloc by Lord Farquaad. Throw in a cursed Princess and a noble Donkey side-kick and you have a fun, uplifting adventure story for all ages.
This was our first time watching Shrek The Musical on stage and QBMTS really showed us what this musical is made of. Directed by Zoe Russell who also acts as the Choreographer, with Musical Director Chris Handley leading the talented orchestra, this production from start to finish was easily one of the best amateur dramatics production we have ever seen on stage. From the carefully casted principle cast to the thoughtfully chosen quality costumes, (some of the best I have seen in the Am Dram scene), this production simply stands out. The standard was set early on from the wonderful make-up, prosthetics and wigs by Paul Herrington, Amy Pearson and Team who transformed Carl Cook into the iconic Shrek. We knew from the opening scene that QBMTS meant serious business.
Sometimes you can get lost with the amount of people that companies try to pack on stage for chorus numbers but this wasn’t an issue for QBMTS. The company have mastered their casting and staging, ensuring that everyone is seen and heard with equal measure. The company gave the audience boundless energy, making me smile throughout. From a musical packed full of memorable songs, picking a favourite company number is difficult but I would have to say that Freak Flag and What’s Up Duloc? have to be in the top.
The incredible Carl Cook as main title character Shrek delivered a bold, loveable performance with vocals to rival any Shrek monster on any tour. His Princess Fiona, the vocal sensation – Sarah Coussens, captured all of the qualities that the audience know and love of our favourite ogre Princess. Luey Pearce as Donkey delivered an outstanding hilarious performance for his first show with QBMTS. I anticipate we will see big things from Luey in his future on stage. The charismatic Tom Robinson had the audience in hysterics as Lord Farquaad, who received rapturous applause on the night. The electric chemistry and vocals of this principle cast is something that we could have seen on the West End stage.
The audience were also treated to our favourite film characters such as Pinocchio, Isabella Cook and Gingerbread Man played by Gillian Homer. Both delivered us quirky, hilarious performances as the two loved film characters. Natalie Baggott as Dragon sent the roof soaring with her vocal performance in Forever.
For our first trip to Duloc on stage with Shrek – The Musical, I feel we were truly spoilt. QBMTS are delivering West End performances on a regional stage giving the packed out audience high quality theatre at a decent price. If this is the standard they maintain after going through a pandemic and cancellations, then the future is definitely bright for this talented company.
We Say: “QBMTS have delivered a professional, polished perfect production.”