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Live review: Shrek: The Musical roars into Sheffield and is a monster hit

Steffan Harri as Shrek.
Steffan Harri as Shrek.

It took me by surprise when I realised that it is now 17 years since the original movie version of Shrek first hit cinema screens for the first time.

It was way back in 2001 that the lovable green ogre and his wisecracking sidekick Donkey became so beloved of children and adults everywhere.

Now, nearly two decades on, they are back along with the rest of the stars of the animated spectacular for an all-singing, all-dancing stage version that's touring the UK and is currently running at Sheffield's Lyceum Theatre until April 8.

And what a cracking Easter treat it is - not just for the little monsters in your house - but the big ones too.

If you don't know the plot, you must have been living in a swamp in the forest for the last twenty years.

Shrek (Steffan Harri) is a grouchy green ogre with questionable hygiene who is thrust into action as the knight in shining armour to rescue the imprisoned Princess Fiona who has been locked away in a castle for many years by the evil Lord Farquaad.

Marcus Ayton as Donkey, does battle with the Dragon.

Marcus Ayton as Donkey, does battle with the Dragon.

And Harri captures the essence of the animated screen original to a tee in a lively, zippy and colourful production that's not short on laughs, superb staging and the staple for what's primarily a children's show - a few risque jokes for the adults.

Opposite him as the damsel in distress Fiona is Call The Midwife star Laura Main, barely recognisable from her role as Sister Bernadette in the BBC hit and who proves to have a decent pair of lungs on her as the cast rattle through an impressive 20 different numbers in the space of just a couple of hours.

Anyone who loved the movie original, and of course its sequels, won't be disappointed here.

The scene where Shrek and Donkey (played wonderfully by Marcus Ayton, very much in the mould of Eddie Murphy in the original) is a wonderful piece of staging and choreography that left younger viewers open mouthed and gasping in awe.

The ensemble cast of Shrek: The Musical

The ensemble cast of Shrek: The Musical

Stealing large chunks of the show is the diminutive Farquaad (Samuel Holmes) who delivers the bulk of the show's deftest and laugh out loud comic moments. I won't spoil it too much for those who haven't seen it yet - but let's just put it this way, his knees must be shot to pieces by the end of the run!

That said, the first act didn't quite have the same zing as the second half, where the pace seemed to pick up considerably, along with the gag quota - and it was noticeable to see that some of the restless youngsters from earlier in the evening seemed to find more of a focus as the show rattled towards its conclusion.

But that's a minor gripe.

The costumes and special effects were pretty top notch and the production stays pretty original to the film - although it is worth bearing in mind that it was never originally a musical - not that such an overhaul detracts from it in any way.

Call The Midwife star Laura Main plays Princess Fiona.

Call The Midwife star Laura Main plays Princess Fiona.

Seeing the audience exiting into a very rainy Sheffield night with smiles on their faces and singing and humming along to closing number, The Monkees' I'm A Believer proved it was a case of job done - for all ages.

Shrek The Musical is a monster hit for fans of all ages. Catch it if you can.

* Shrek: The Musical runs at Sheffield Lyceum until April 8.

Samuel Holmes as Lord Farquaad.

Samuel Holmes as Lord Farquaad.