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Shrek – Bolton Choral Musical Society

The story of Shrek is a familiar tale and a family favourite. BCMCS take on this huge show with its usual aplomb and present a smashing production that the capacity audience lapped up and left the auditorium wanting more.

Bright, colourful, energetic, with splendid sets and costumes, this production was entertaining from start to finish. A strong vocal opening was provided by Beth Allcock and Jon Allen as Mamma Ogre and Pappa Ogre. A great introduction which was followed by young Fiona, Sienna Parkinson, keeping up the quality.

Jonny Cunliffe as Shrek leads a talented principal cast. Shrek is a massive role and Jonny plays a blinder as he effortlessly bangs out tune after tune, whilst sustaining a Scottish accent throughout. This was a standout performance and one he should be very proud of.   As Shrek seeks to regain access to his swamp, he meets several great characters. He meets a donkey who befriends him and what a pair they make – they could be brothers! Joe Cunliffe is a fabulous donkey, good at comedy and fine vocals, Joe maintains the character and sings through the score with ease.

Shrek is set a task by Lord Farquaad which is to rescue Princess Fiona from a dragon guarded castle. Gareth Jones as Farquaad is hilarious. Farquaad may be small in stature, but he filled the stage ensuring each entrance and exit was as funny as the last.

In an outstanding dragon costume, Rachel Whitehead proved to be a fearsome Dragon. What a voice, note perfect and effortless as she guarded the entrance to the castle and interacted with the other characters. A most watchable performance.

Teen Fiona, Jasmine Parkinson is one to watch in the future, and along with her sister (young Fiona) should one day be taking the role of Princess Fiona. Jasmine sang beautifully and looked just right.

As Shrek finally gains access to the castle, complete with rib tickling puffs and pants depicting he is out of breath, Fiona is rescued and sets off on a journey to marry Lord Farquaad. – or does she? Stevie-Leigh Crossley is perfect for this role and shows an impressive vocal dexterity which is delivered with consummate ease. She looks every bit the Princess, but we soon get to see the feisty side, which makes her formidable. With an obvious ability to act, sing and dance, Stevie proves to be a great performer. Her bond with Shrek was clear, especially as they both seem to have the same issue with flatulence.

One of the highlights for me was the ensemble. An array of fairy tale characters delight as they enter and bring the stage to life. Too many to mention, however, Hayley Cheetham as Sugar Plum Fairy and Gingy characterises and sings well. In addition, we had 3 delightful blind mice, 3 equally delightful pigs, a regiment of castle guards and a set of dancers, dynamically executing each routine.

The programme bills this show as a spectacle, and it certainly was. It was comic book, fairy-tale and a slight nod to panto thrown into one. Special mention must go to Ursula Greenhalgh who manages the makeup department. Shrek’s make up and prosthetics were flawless and really gave the sense of a real ogre and not someone in a mask. Well done!

Congratulations to the production team, Director, Deb Lyons, Musical Director, David Wilson, Choreographer, Katherine Farrington, cast and crew, on the presentation of this splendid spectacular, which, has yet again, proved that BCMCS are on the top tier when it comes to presenting quality theatre.

Paul Cohen