Thursday 23 February 2012

Shrek: The Musical @ Drury Lane Theatre

From the heights of the first film to its sequels and spin-offs, each consecutive Shrek film has gone downhill. Shrek: The Musical is just a watered down version of the original and continues the sequels' descent. Don't be fooled by the giant 'S' outside the theatre or the silly ears - this is not the Shrek you know and love.

So how do you attempt to make an average stage show from a hit film? Take a cue from Shrek and follow these five simple steps:

Step 1 - Write an identical script to the film

Include all the jokes and one-liners that everyone knows and loves. In the process, struggle to add in anything novel that differentiates your show from its source, aside from the odd comedy moment like the cow that jumps over the moon. Throw in some amusing piss-takes of other musicals to provide the funniest moments, whilst simultaneously highlighting how much better they are than your own show.

Step 2 - Write some new songs...

...that ultimately add nothing to the story, regardless of your anthemic intentions. Make them as slushy and cheesy as possible in an attempt to expand on the already flimsy characters, but forgettable enough that nobody will bother to buy the soundtrack. If no one is singing the songs when they leave, you've got an average hit on your hands...right?

Step 3 - Create some fantastic sets and costumes

Make sure your show is visually exciting with moving sets and colourful costumes that perfectly replicate the film. Of paramount importance is a singing, puppet dragon to fly over the audience in a thrilling finale but ultimately under-use. Most importantly, though, smother everything in GREEN. Then screw up the technical side with fuzzy sound levels so the audience can't discern the lyrics. Either that, or cast actors who fail to enunciate in the lead roles.

Step 4 - Find a talented ensemble...

...and then give them jack all to do. Make sure they all have brilliant voices and can tackle the intricate choreography with ease. Give them a song every now and again (like Freak Flag) to pick up the energy and prove to the audience that your show does actually contain some talent. The aforementioned dragon should have an incredible voice (Landi Oshinowo), but a paltry moment on stage for the bows. The gingerbread man (Alice Fearn) should also be given a moment in the spotlight to showcase her impressive vocals. Mostly, though, give them plenty of time to rest between scenes of physical exertion - they'll need it.

Step 5 - Hire some celebrities to drive ticket sales

There's not a chance in hell that they'll disappoint the audience, regardless of how miniscule their talent. Ensure that Shrek (Nigel Lindsay) is given a mask that obscures his expressions to the audience and slowly melts under heat and sweat, whilst the actor attempts a Scottish accent. Cast any old black guy as Donkey (Richard Blackwood will do) and expect him to do a flawless Eddie Murphy impression, despite having none of his high-pitched charm or hyperactivity and instead having an appalling American accent, an expressionless face and no energy...whatsoever. Your Princess Fiona should be a glorified popstar (Kimberley Walsh) who strains with her weak, nasal vocal, relies on repetitive hand gestures for "acting" and can't tap dance - then provide her with an intricate tap dancing number. Also hire some children to play the same part and overshadow your celebrity. Heck, you'll need someone to take over in the future. Lastly, Lord Farquhad should be the show's highlight - even if he is the understudy (Ross Dawes).

And there you have it, in five easy steps. Your show may be aimed predominantly at children (though a few adult jokes thrown in won't go amiss), but that's no excuse for not giving them a totally average experience. I mean, they'll grow up soon enough and forget about the whole thing...right?