27 October 2021

Shrek The Musical - Northampton Musical Theatre Company Review.

"big bright beautiful and brilliant"

It's been 20 years (where has the time gone!) since the smash hit Dreamworks movie adaptation of William Steig's original story hit the big screens. In 2008 the movie was adapted into a stage musical that had successful runs on Broadway and in London. Now the Northampton Musical Theatre Company brings their own amateur production running at Royal and Derngate and serving up a warm dose of family fun this half term.

In this glorious production, the Northampton Musical Theatre Company has done a fantastic job of bringing out the joyous theatricality of the story with clever staging that allows for the performances to be at the forefront but also allows for some tremendous sets and costumes. The production has a large cast of over 40 all of whom look fantastic, particularly the fairy tale creatures.

Dan Hodson (Shrek), Luke White (Donkey), and Ashleigh Standage (Fiona).


The sets which have been provided by Scenic Projects Ltd create the right settings for each scene with slick transitions on the show's first night. Costumes by Molly Limpet's Theatrical Emporium in Sheffield are highly impressive.

It's on such a scale that at times you forget this isn't a professional production. I was wondering how an amateur production would approach Dragon but there's a huge puppet that sweeps in and is magnificent. It's controlled with skill by members of the company and voiced with powerhouse vocals by Lisa Simpson.

Another impressive element here is the orchestra under the conductorship of Graham Tear. The 15 musicians are of the highest quality and the sound they create in playing the original score by David Lindsay-Abaire and Janine Tesori is a delight for the ears.

Martyn Knight's slick direction and excellent choreography feature the right amount of pizazz that the company flourishes in performing - especially as Pied Piper's company of rats in the act two opening number 'Morning Person'.

'Morning Person'


Throughout the large company, there are numerous memorable performances but all in all, everyone appeared confident and assured on the opening performance. This is clearly a well-run company with a great spirit and they really delivered here.

Ama Scuotto thrives in every moment as Lord Farquaad, he's deliciously controlling with a gleeful smile on his face. He is in complete control even as he spends most of the show on his knees performing the role behind prop legs in yellow tights. Jay Upton shines during 'Freak Flag' as she superbly controls the Gingy puppet and sings with real power.

Luke White is strong as Shrek's faithful companion, Donkey. He has a good eye for delivering the humour which that has the audience laughing along. Ashleigh Standage's upbeat likeable Fiona matches perfectly with those around her and boasts a lovely voice.

The night belongs to Dan Hodson in the titular role of Shrek. Dan has had to step in at the last minute due to Ian Hammond-Stark, unfortunately, being struck down by COVID but is due to return on Wednesday. Dan is more than just a safe pair of green hands, he is outstanding. He commands the stage with ease and has an amazing voice that would be at home on the West End and beyond.

Sure if I was to be supercritical there are things I could pick out, like some sound issues but that feels unfair (especially on the first night). I left the theatre feeling uplifted and glad that I managed to spend an evening watching a cast of wonderful people giving it their all and having a fantastic time. When you see a cast having fun it instantly makes the experience more enjoyable. This production is bright beautiful and brilliant. Get down to theatre and support this great company, you shall not leave the swamp disappointed.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ magnificent theatre delivered with passionate performances.

Shrek The Musical from the Northampton Musical Theatre Company plays at Royal and Derngate in Northampton until Saturday 30th October. Tickets are available from www.royalandderngate.co.uk

Ama Scuotto (Lord Farquaad) and Ashleigh Standage (Fiona)

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