Arriving to Sunderland Empire adorned with bright green lights that shone across the city, it was easy to know Shrek The Musical was in town.

The family favourite all singing all dancing production certainly impressed audiences on it’s final night in Sunderland Empire (Saturday, February 10).

Following the plot of the 2001 film - after well-known fairy tale creatures such as the three pigs and the big bad wolf find refuge at ogre Shrek’s stinky swamp. 

Resisting his new neighbours Shrek and his newfound companion a Donkey begin a dangerous quest to a dragon guarded tower to rescue Princess Fiona for the power-hungry Lord Farquaad.

The quest sets Shrek, Princess Fiona and Donkey on a journey of friendship, love and self-discovery that they will never forget.

The Northern Echo: A scene from Shrek the Musical UK and Ireland Tour 2023-4

Not forgetting some classic lines from the DreamWorks Oscar winning animation like ‘you’re going the right way for a smacked bottom’ and ‘ogres have layers’, the outrageously funny musical adds backstory to the well-loved story with plenty of extra laughs.

In this musical rendition Shrek The Musical, the audience learns much more about the characters, shining light on Shrek and Fiona’s younger years.

We were able to see Fiona at three stages of her life locked up and lonely in her tower as she performed ‘I Know It’s Today’ as she awaits her rescue.

Ex-strictly star Joanne Clifton was like a beacon of (green) light in the production and added some necessary sassiness to the character of Princess Fiona whereas Antony Lawrence adds softness and emotion to Shrek balancing the chemistry of the two characters.

The Northern Echo: Joanne Clifton heads to Sunderland Empire as Princess Fiona in Shrek The Musical

The mythical and mystical sets transported the audience from Sunderland Empire to the land of Far Far Away visiting Dulock, the swamp and Fiona’s Tower.

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Brandon Lee Sears vocals belted across the theatre as Donkey and his oblivious nature bounced of Shrek’s dry humour adding comic relief throughout the performance as their friendship is formed.

‘I Think I Got You Beat’ was tearily funny and heartfelt as it lets the audience see how Shrek and Princess Fiona’s relationship blossoms through their shared trauma and abandonment issues that end in a strange and shameless farting competition that had little ones and adults howling.

James Gillian is as hilarious as Lord Farquaad whose character is the perfect mix of spoilt, and camp, as he is villainous, hair-flipping his way to becoming king. It’s easy to say there were plenty of cheers across the audience amidst his defeat.

The Northern Echo: A scene from Shrek the Musical UK and Ireland Tour 2023-4

My favourite musical number was easily the finale with ‘I’m a Believer’ – involving the whole cast in a joyful and upbeat atmosphere that had the entire theatre up off their seats and dancing along.

Overall Shrek The Musical was a fantastically funny family affair that gave audiences an evening of pure entertainment, that saw droves of theatre-goers heading out into Sunderland City, fashioning bright green Shrek ears.