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Shrek the Musical

What the critics say: Ben Mingay moves a mountain of makeup as Shrek the ogre settles into his Sydney swamp.

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Shrek the Musical

Date: 7 Jan 2020

What Sydney’s critics are saying about Shrek the Musical:

“The Dreamworks movie, upon which this musical is based, perfectly nailed its comedic tone, playing confidently to youngsters as well as grown-ups, and satirising the style of fairytale animation popularised by Disney,” writes Ben Neutze in Time Out.

The stage version aims for similar and has enough razzle dazzle and good gags to keep you entertained. Jeanine Tesori’s pop-inflected songs, along with David Lindsay-Abaire’s book and lyrics (leaning heavily on the film) keep the adventure rolling along, and there are lots of smart subversions of fairytales and folklore.

But unlike the film, Shrek the Musical can never quite settle on an audience, its approach is to telling this story, or even its comedic style.”

“Ben Mingay is ideal,” writes Phillip Scott in Limelight.

“Retaining the ogre’s Scottish brogue (voiced in the original movie by Mike Myers), Mingay creates a fully rounded character, conveying all the rough-edged charm, vulnerability and humanity behind the faux-grumpy exterior. His solid bass-baritone voice rings out effortlessly, and is a joy to listen to. With such a strong central performance everything falls into place, and the result is a truly enjoyable, escapist night in the theatre.”

Sydney Morning Heralds Harriet Cunningham’s reservations were quickly overcome, it seems.

“Initially the prosthetics, especially for Shrek (Ben Mingay) threaten to get in the way of real emotions, with the first act stodgy at times.

However, Mingay’s performance shines through as Shrek’s character develops and in the second act the pace picks up.

Mingay and Nat Jobe (Donkey) make a likeable duo, but the plum roles fall to Todd McKenney as Lord Farquaad and Lucy Durack as Princess Fiona. McKenney is a glorious pantomime villain and virtuoso knee-dancer, while Durack flounces and pouts and bounces off Shrek with assured comic timing and sassy charm, which makes you almost forget how good a singer she is.”

“Ben Mingay has the title role and it is a tough gig,” opines “OTT” on TheatreNow.

“He has to act through a huge fat suit, a latex mask and layers of paint and at times, it defeats him. Shrek’s Scottish accent (so much a part of him) is inconsistent and he is obviously so uncomfortable trying to move that the characteristic charm which underpins Shrek’s nature is never established. We just didn’t come to see him as human and come to care to him, just a little.”

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