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REVIEW:Starlight Musical Theatre – Shrek The MusicalEden Court****

By Margaret Chrystall

ONCE upon a time there was a little ogre … and when Shrek The Musical came along he got an unexpectedly happy ending.

Eden Court's Thursday audience got Starlight Musical Theatre's expectedly no-effort-spared vintage night of theatre.

With the theatre company one of just two amateur groups in Scotland permitted to present the musical this year, there was a big weight on their shoulders to present something, ahem, Shrek-tacular.

And with a show full of stars and slick showmanship, there is a lot of greatness in this production.

Liam MacAskill makes a likeable hero under the green skin and Shrek-shaped ears – you can buy your own in the foyer! And he has a singing voice that makes emotional melting moments out of songs such as When Words Fail and Who I’d Be, the heart is all there, and the sense of comic timing – especially in scenes with Princess Fiona (Amy Atkinson), though maybe there is not the total brashness of the Shrek we know from the movie.

For me, the early moments with the storybook characters, came across as a little confusing – which may be down to the musical itself – with lots of people talking and not always being heard while ears tuned into the different voices.

But technically this was a production there was no finding fault with. Almost miraculously slick scene and scenery changes kept the pace buzzing along and were particularly impressive.

Noteworthy performances were everywhere. Standouts, if only from the audience’s reactions, included Amy Atkinson as the all-singing, all-dancing Princess Fiona, the glorious vocals of Amy Louise Lowe as the Dragon – impressively active too thanks to her puppeteers. Matt Tyrer as Donkey made a wonderful best friend sidekick for Shrek – with a powerful vocal as a first calling card in Don’t Let Me Go.

And making the most of the comedy gold opportunity of little Lord Farquaad was Alasdair David Davidson.

Physically almost as challenged – spending the entire show on his knees – as a boiling Liam MacAskill must have been in his Shrek costume, Alasdair toyed with his little legs to the crowd’s delight, wallowed in the luscious vocal moments given to Farquaad and appeared to have a ball in the role.

For those who might have wondered if a stage version of the hit movie’s tale could equal it’s entertainment value, the answer is a resounding yes, though there were moments the musical might edit with little loss.

And with its positive message where fairy tales come true – for everyone, including cross-dressing wolves – Starlight’s choice is a great one for our times.

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