Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

After a relaxing break in Iceland with Gareth and a lovely weekend with her Mum in London, Faye returns to the stage later today as Shrek the Musical kicks off it's 2 week stay at the Lyceum Theatre.

The grade 2 listed building in the centre of Sheffield underwent a £12 million makeover in 1991 and now hosts huge West End shows all year round.

It was nearly the venue I first had the pleasure of meeting Faye in person because I did actually go to the stage door after seeing her there in Legally Blonde. Unfortunately after waiting a few minutes I lost my nerve and slipped away before she came out.

I'm hoping to travel up South Yorkshire again to see her in Shrek and hopefully this time I'll get to say hello and have a quick chat.

It's Faye's penultimate stop on the tour so I want everyone who sees the show in Sheffield to give Princess Fiona a particularly big cheer.

There are still a few tickets available so if you live in the area make sure you visit the swamp before it leaves town. It's a big, bright, beautiful show you'd be mad to miss.

I hope Faye and her fairytale friends have a fantastic opening night and a wonderful two weeks in Sheffield!

Monday, 25 May 2015

Faye's Shrek Questions - Part 4

Faye is now back from her relaxing break in Iceland with Gareth but is still enjoying her time off and on Saturday took the opportunity to see a West End show.

She visited the Prince Edward theatre to see friends Siobhan Dillon and Jon Reynolds in Miss Saigon. Must have made a nice change to be on the other side of the curtain.

She'll be back on stage this week at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield but first lets take a look at her answers to Part 4 of the Shrek questions she answered for the blog.

Here Faye tells us how the character of Princess Fiona compares to her own, what surprised her about the show and just how scary it is to forget your lines on stage: 


Shrek Question #10
How would you describe Princess Fiona and how does her character compare to your own?

Faye's Answer
Fiona and I naturally share the same kind of dry wit, which makes her a joy to play every day! 

I wouldn't say I bare any 'Bi-Polar' tendencies like Fiona but I have been known to put my guard up when I don't trust someone.

If you're lucky enough to have met Faye then you'll probably know she has a beautiful personality and the same could be said for Fiona once you peel away a couple of layers :)


Shrek Question #11
I think I'm right in saying you hadn’t seen Shrek the Musical prior to taking the role, is the show and the role of Fiona everything you expected? Were there any surprises?

Faye's Answer
YES. How about not knowing the part where I turn GREEN! 

That was a real surprise. I didn't have a clue up until we had finished 4 weeks of rehearsals and arrived in Leeds. 

We had to Tech the quick change less than a week before the previews... 

It was a blur but an attack of green paint by two make up artists, two dressers, two wiggies and a sound technician on stand by with a torch and I had completed the Princess Fiona transformation!
 
Must have been quite a surprise!

The green make up goes on in seconds but I'm sure it must take Faye quite a bit longer to wash it all off after the show.


Shrek Question #12
I’m guessing every actor or actress has forgotten their words at some point. Has it happened to you on the Shrek tour? If so, at which point in the show did it happen and how did you deal with it?

Faye's Answer
I always second guess myself. That's the danger when we all know the show so well. And it's also why our job is so demanding, you always have to be on your 'A' game. 

I had a moment the other week where myself, Dean (Shrek) and Idriss (Donkey) were onstage in act two after our 'air guitar' moment and I went to say my line. Nothing. I froze.... 

It's the worse thing to happen to an actor. Dean saved the day, he skipped everyone's lines and led us into the next part of the scene where Donkey then stole the show with "You Gotta Make A Move". 

I was Crimson with embarrassment but I had to shake it off and continue telling the story hoping that the audience hadn't noticed a thing?!!!

I've never been at a show where Faye forget her words but it's one of those things that does happen to every actor from time to time.

I remember during one performance Dean (Shrek) got his words a little mixed up and said to Donkey that he was off to slay the Princess and rescue the dragon. :)

However, the cast of this great show are so talented and professional they just carried on like nothing had happened and I honestly don't think anyone noticed.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Faye's Shrek Questions - Part 3

As promised here is Part 3 of the Shrek questions Faye answered for the blog.

Here Faye discusses the similarities and differences between Elle Woods and Fiona, how much input she's allowed into the way she portrays the character of the fiesty but slightly bi-polar Princess, and what is her favourite part of the show.


Shrek Question #7
How much input are you allowed into the way you portray the character of Princess Fiona?

Faye's Answer
I feel really honoured to have had the opportunity to take on this beautifully complex and interesting character.

Nigel Harman has been so very generous with his direction, giving me permission to simply have fun, play and discover every layer to Princess Fiona as long as there is truth.

Nigel probably realised very early on that Faye is a special actress who would bring the character to life and portray Fiona so perfectly that it's now impossible to imagine anyone else in the role.


Shrek Question #8
What’s your favourite part of the show and why?

Faye's Answer
My favourite part of the show has to be the scene when Shrek enters Princess Fiona's tower for the first time. 

There is so much happening in this scene: 

Lots of dialogue between Shrek, Fiona and Donkey. A huge musical moment for the orchestra narrating the entire Dragon chase, crazy pieces of set changing and all the while I'm still singing "This is how a dream comes true".

Phew! I'm even out of breathe just talking about it.

 
That really is an amazing scene and it's somewhat miraculous that Faye still delivers such a stunning vocal performance with so much going on around her.


Shrek Question #9
How does playing Princess Fiona compare – both physically and vocally - to the other roles you’ve played, particularly Elle Woods? Is it a very different part to act to your other roles or are there similarities?

Faye's Answer
They are both VERY different characters but at the same time both brilliantly beautiful inside and out.

Elle woods was definitely a demanding role as I never really left the stage. The whole show was about her so I always had to be on my front foot.

Where as with Princess Fiona, she is a part of Shrek's story so the show doesn't really evolve around her presence.

Don't get wrong, when she is on stage you'll know it! Her sass and confidence is very inspiring!

Both characters wear their hearts on their sleeve, as do I, so I completely empathise with their vulnerabilities.



Elle Woods and Princess Fiona are two of the best but also most demanding female roles in musical theatre and thanks to Faye's wonderful performances, I've fallen in love with them both.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Xpress Radio Scotland Shrek Review

Just as I return from my travels around Cornwall, Faye and Gareth leave for a well earned break of their own.

This morning they flew out to Iceland and should hopefully now be relaxing in a beautiful hot spring like the one Faye tweeted below.

Looks like heaven!

I'll soon be posting Part 3 of Faye's Shrek Q&A but first, check out this fantastic Shrek review by Xpress Radio Scotland.

"Faye Brookes is the perfect Princess Fiona. Her impreccable diction, comedy timing and wondrous vocals make her a Broadway standard leading lady."



Radio Scotland - Shrek Review by fayebrookesblog

Friday, 8 May 2015

Faye's Shrek Questions - Part 2

Later today I'm heading off for my first break of the year to Cornwall. I'll be gone for about a week before travelling to London next weekend to watch Bristol Rovers play off final match with Grimsby at Wembley Stadium.

Unfortunately that probably means I won't be able to update the blog for about 10 days but if there is any Faye related news I will do my best to keep you updated on Twitter.

Before I depart I thought I'd leave you with 'Part 2' of the Shrek questions Faye very kindly answered for the blog.

Here Faye tells us how she perfected the 'Morning Person' tap routine, that regardless what mishaps happens on stage 'the show must go on' and what tweaks she's made to her performance since the show started last July. 


Shrek Question #4
Had you done any tap dancing prior to Shrek and how did you perfect the 'Morning Person' tap routine?

Faye's Answer
Tap has always been a very popular style of dance and is used in the majority of Musical Theatre shows.

I was a late bloomer, my lessons were incorporated into my training at Drama School. When it came to tackling the infamous 'Rat Tap' I had to perfect it without any of my rats first! The choreographer, Pip Gordon gave me one on one tuition, once all the moves were in place I was ready for the sequinned hot pants!

Maybe because Faye is such a sensational actress and has such a stunning voice, her brilliant step perfect dancing is sometimes overlooked. Not by me though. How can you overlook a routine where Faye wears sequinned hot pants?


Shrek Question #5
I believe you had a wardrobe malfunction in Leeds on press night while performing ‘I Think I Got You Beat’. How did you deal with that and have you had any other clothing issues during the tour?

Faye's Answer
If ever there's a Wardobe malfunction, the old saying still remains true ...! "The Show Must Go On" 

That particular performance of "I think I Got You Beat" was a rather exposing experience for me although I think it's safe to say that the audience LOVED it. It's what Live Theatre is all about!
 
Despite being young, Faye is a seasoned performer and knows exactly how best to handle any mishaps that take place.

I'm sure on this occasion the audience weren't complaining about having the opportunity to see a little more of Faye than they expected ;)


Shrek Question #6
I know from a recent interview and from watching the show that your portrayal of Fiona is constantly evolving. Can you name something that you’ve changed in your performance since the show started last July?

Faye's Answer
Princess Fiona hears the voice of her Hero climbing the tower. 

My reaction to his arrival changes all the time... 

It's Pure joy and elation, sometimes I can't contain how excited I am, who knows what will come out?!

I can certainly vouch for this. I've watched the show 13 times and have seen Faye perform many different but equally brialliant reactions to be rescued from her tower.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Faye's Shrek Questions - Part 1

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, despite being very busy Faye very kindly answered 15 questions I sent her about Shrek the Musical and her role as Princess Fiona.

Below is her first set of answers where she tells us how she struggles to contain her laughter when Farquaard is on stage, that Dean / Shrek would never drop the Princess and how each show is an emotional rollercoaster.


Shrek Question #1
What do you think is the funniest part of the show. Is there any particular part of the show when you always struggle to contain your giggles and have you ever been unable to control your laughter on stage?

Faye's Answer
The script is so well written that all of the comedic moments that you see as an audience are forever changing, the writers give us so much to work with already that as actors we just get to play. 

Not one show is ever the same but of course there are moments when I struggle to contain my laughter! Every day that Lord Farquaard dismounts his horse & takes a knee to propose to Princess Fiona would be one, let's just say that Gerard Carey is a very clever actor!

I have to agree with Faye about Gerard Carey who plays Lord Farquaard. The man is a genius. I can give him no bigger compliment than to say when it comes to comedic timing and facial expressions he's nearly as good as Faye.


Shrek Question #2
Has Dean ever come close to dropping you when Shrek rescues Fiona from the tower and charges around the stage with you over his shoulder? Also, how hard is it to continue singing when you’re being carried around?

Faye's Answer
Never would Dean drop me, maybe his sword once or twice but he has been given an order to rescue the Princess from her tower & he lets me know that he intends to complete that task. 

Singing "This is How A Dream Comes True" whilst hanging off Shrek's shoulder is rather difficult but it's something I've got used to. Practise makes perfect!
 
Good to know Dean is a safe pair of hands and amazing how Faye sings nearly as perfectly while hanging upside down off Shrek's shoulder.


Shrek Question #3
Is the show tough physically? I’m guessing the tap routine is the most tiring part? Is it difficult to get your breath back going straight from ‘Morning Person’ into ‘I Think I Got You Beat’?

Faye's Answer
The whole show takes me on such an emotional roller coaster that at the end of each performance I feel physically AND mentally drained. 

However, after 4 weeks of rehearsals & 11 months of practise I've figured out when is best to take a breathe.

The beginning to Act 2 is my favourite part of the show but must be quite exhausting for Faye.

It starts with 'Morning Person' where Faye gets to show off her brilliant vocals and step perfect dancing, and is quickly followed by 'I Think I've Got You Beat' which really showcases her fantastic comedic acting.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Faye Decides It's Time For A New Challenge and Will Leave Shrek on 28th June!

You may have already heard that Faye has decided not to extend her Shrek contract and will leave the show at the end of June.

Although I am of course a little sad that my own tour of the UK watching Faye sparkle on stage as Princess Fiona will soon end, I completely understand her decision.

For three of the last five years Faye has been living out of a suitcase, travelling from theatre to theatre touring with Legally Blonde and Shrek. It's an extremely tiring life which meant she was often away from family and friends.

Faye feels the time is right to try something new. In her latest interview she said "I get itchy feet and I like to challenge myself."

She recently starred in her first major TV role as Agnes Franklin in Our Zoo and I know she'd like to do more TV work in the future.

Whether it's on stage or screen I'm sure there lots of exciting opportunities around the corner for this remarkably talented and versatile actress.

When she leaves Shrek on 28th June it's just the end of one chapter in her story and I can't wait to see what comes next.

Her future may not be GREEN but it will be BIG, BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

King's Theatre, Glasgow

This afternoon Faye will take to the stage for the first of 24 performances over three weeks at the Kings Theatre in Glasgow.

It's an old theatre which opened back 1904. The outide of the building hasn't changed much over the years but it underwent a significant interior refurbishment in 2009.

It holds 1785 people over 4 levels and I'm sure it will be packed to the rafters while Shrek is in town.

Last time Faye was at the Kings Theatre was back in 2011 when she received rave reviews for her performances playing Elle Woods in the Legally Blonde Tour.

BACKSTAGE PASS LEGALLY BLONDE REVIEW
KINGS THEATRE, GLASGOW - AUGUST 2011
Faye Brooks is perfectly cast as the blonde heroine Elle Woods. Her outstanding vocal range, sunny characterisation and uncanny resemblance to Elle in the original film, Reece Witherspoon, results in a performance that is sure to delight fans of the film and musical alike.

Unfortunately winter has returned in Scotland this week with snow and freezing temperatures. Apparently it was -7c on Monday morning which is the lowest April 27 temperature since records began in the 1850's.

POLAR PLUME SET TO BLOW IN FROM ARTIC

Here is a beautiful picture of some snow capped mountains taken by Nikki Bentley - who plays Gingy in Shrek - as she arrived in Glasgow yesterday.

Hopefully everyone packed their winter woollies!

I'd like to wish Faye and her fairytale friends the best of luck for their first show later today and hope they have a wonderful 3 weeks in Scotland. Och aye the noo!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A Look Back at Birmingham

Where does the time go?

The last 4 weeks have flown by and tomorrow Faye and her fairytale friends head back to Scotland on the next leg of their UK and Ireland tour in Glasgow.

Before they do we'll take a final look back at what the fans and critics in Birmingham thought of our favourite Princess.

COUNTY WOMAN
"Princess Fiona isn’t your average one dimensional fairytale princess – she’s feisty, temperamental and a little crazed after being locked in a tower for 20 years, and Faye Brookes played her with great comedic sass. She has a stunning voice and I particularly loved her performance of ‘I Know It’s Today’; a cleverly choreographed piece for which she was joined by an infant and teenage Fiona."

The wit was there along with impeccable comic timing which combined to make Fiona a different brand of damsel entirely."

BEHIND THE ARRAS
"On Faye Brookes last visit to Birmingham we described her performance as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde as faultless, and nothing has really changed as Princess Fiona. She is just superb - sassy, bossy, a bit vulnerable underneath the feisty image, and what a voice."

THE TAMWORTH HERALD
"Faye Brookes was outstanding as Princess Fiona, the classic fairytale princess with a refreshing hint of sarcasm and anger. To my delight, her powerful voice was given room to shine in numbers like I Know It's Today and Morning Person."

NATIVE MONSTER
"Meanwhile, Faye Brookes was a fantastically feisty and funny Fiona, with great comedy timing and a belter of a voice on songs including I Know It’s Today and Morning Person."

SINCERELY, AMY
"Faye Brookes who played Fiona had immaculate stage presence, her energy never dipped as she portayed the fiesty Fiona as a strong sassy princess. Fiona is a character famous for being played by celebrities such as Amanda Holden and Kimberley Walsh but Faye Brookes blew them out of the water. Her flawless singing and vivacity created an exceptional performance."

Monday, 27 April 2015

A Lovely Gift From Faye's Dresser!

Check out this adorable Princess Fiona doll made by Faye's dresser at the Birmingham Hippodrome, Helen Reeve.

Such a lovely gift. I think they should add it to the official Shrek merchandise.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

No Unlucky 13 For Me!

Yesterday I made my 13th trip to see my favourite actress light up the stage in the spectacular Shrek Tour.

It certainly wasn't unlucky 13 for me because last night turned out to be practically perfect.

I say practically perfect. . . . .

I did have a moment of panic when I arrived at the theatre and saw the cast list which said that Eva Bailey was playing Fiona.

I'd been in contact with Faye earlier in the day so I was pretty sure this was a mistake but it was still a great releif when she appeared on stage to welcome us to 'Fiona the Musical'.

It's impossible to imagine anyone other than Faye playing the Princess, she is quite simply irreplaceable.

It was the full cast last night and they were all on top of their game.

Dean gave us an Ogre full of layers, Iddris is a bundle of energy wrapped up in fur as Shreks noble steed and you'll find yourself in fits of laughter everytime Gerard - who plays Farquaard - is on stage.

That said, there is no denying the star of thr show is Faye Brookes.

Every time I see her perform I'm completely blown away and amazed by her sensational expressive acting and breathtaking vocals.

Some might say she's lucky to be blessed with the looks of a Princess, the voice of angel and acting skills to rival anyone on this planet. Well I say we're the lucky ones to be able to follow this remarkable lady on her journey to stardom.

As always after the show I went to the stage door to meet up with Faye.

She's super quick de-greening after 10 month's practice so I didn't have to wait too long.

We had such a lovely chat. I've met her nearly 30 times now and have seen her fairly regularly on the Shrek Tour so I don't get quite as nervous as I used to. We're almost like friends :)

We talked about so many things it's impossible to remember them all. We chatted for 10 minutes at the stage door and for another 10 minutes as I walked with her back to my car which was on route to her digs.

We discussed the show, the amazing cast, life on the road, Gareth - who had spent most of the week with Faye in Birmingham - , the next leg of the tour in Glasgow, the cast list mistake which nearly gave me a heart attack and much, much more.

Unfortunately I wont be able to make it up to Glasgow to see Faye but I did give her a little friend who promised to keep her company when she travels north of the border next week.

I have a West Highland White Terrier named Max who Faye has met on 2 or 3 occasions. His friend Hamish - who is also native to Scotland - was over the moom to hear he'd be accompanying a Princess back to his homeland.

There was just time for a quick selfie - which I love - before I had to let Faye go and get some much needed rest ahead of 4 shows this weekend.

As always I can't thank her enough for being so kind, thoughtful & friendly. She's just as special off stage as she is on it. A star in every way.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Behind the Arras Shrek Review

All being well I'll be making my 13th trip to the swamp tomorrow when I head back to the Birmingham Hippodrome to see Faye and her fairytale friends.

I'm hoping it's not 13th time unlucky!

First, there's just enough time for one last review. This one was written by Roger Clarke for the 'Behind the Arras' website:

BEHIND THE ARRAS SHREK REVIEW

Can you believe it’s 14 years since DreamWorks very own jolly green giant, or at least their big friendly ogre, first hit our screens? And now he’s back in a larger than life, genuinely family musical. 

But don’t worry if you have never seen the film or its sequels and thought Shrek was some hip name for a breakfast cereal, this is a fun musical that not only stands, but positively dances on its own two feet – don’t miss the Pied Piper and the tap dancing rats. 

There is plenty to amuse the children – you can’t go wrong with bodily functions –and plenty of two tier humour to give adults a laugh on one level and and kids a smile on the other, not always the easiest trick in the book, but pulled off here in style. 

Grown-up themes are there, they just don’t get in the way of a simple storyline which will appeal to children of all ages. 

The story is simple, Shrek is an ogre living happily and peacefully in a lonely sort of way in a swamp until a storybookful of fairytale characters exiled from the city of Duloc, ruled by the evil, and credit where credit is due, the also very funny, Lord Farquaad.
 
With his Swamp turned into a fairytale housing estate Shrek, who has picked up a wisecracking donkey along the way, goes to Dulac and does a deal with his Lordship – rescue a princess locked in a tower protected by a fire breathing, and as it turns out, soul singing dragon, bring the princess back to marry Farquaar and Shrek can have the deeds to the swamp and evict the exiled stotybook characters. Simple.

Except that among the fun there is also a love story and a morality tale, something about not judging a book by its cover, love being blind, and taking people for what they are and not how they look.

You can’t argue with the sentiment, or indeed the presentation with a high energy, fast paced show with scenes sliding in and out, up and down seamlessly in Tim Hatley’s colourful, comic book style design.

Dean Chisnall must have played Shrek so often he must be in danger of turning green, two years in the West End, a year on tour and a year to go. He was asked what his dream job in acting would be and said simply: ”This is it”, and it shows. He is clearly enjoying every minute waddling around stage in his padded suit and his enthusiasm rubs off on the audience.

Not that he is alone. On Faye Brookes last visit to Birmingham we described her performance as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde as faultless, and nothing has really changed as Princess Fiona. She is just superb - sassy, bossy, a bit vulnerable underneath the feisty image, and what a voice.

Gerard Carey turns in a comic gem as Lord Farquaad, which looks simple but must be a remarkably physically demanding role. His timing is immaculate at times showing the comic power of the pause.
And for wisecracking fun we have Idriss Kargbo as Donkey in a streetwise, or should that be swampwise, performance of laughs with a bit of R&B throw in.
 
The film, which was based on New Yorker cartoonist William Steig’s 1990 fairytale picture book, poked a little gentle fun at other fairy stories and children’s films, mainly Disney, such as Peter Pan and Snow White – twice - and the stage show adds a few more references including The Lion King and even Les Miserables.

There are some good special effects, such as the animated gingerbread man and a wonderful, soul singing dragon which fills the stage. All right you can see the puppeteers, but who cares, the effect is spectacular – a giant flying dragon that sings with a backing group of knights in stocks – don’t ask. 

Around the four leads is an excellent ensemble who are knights villagers, fairytale characters and anything else needed – backstage must be controlled chaos with all the costume changes.

The 12 strong orchestra under musical director David Rose is big for a touring show, and it shows with a full sound – and little snatches, here and there, of themes from some famous movies if you listen carefully.

Directed by Nigel Harman and with music by Jeanine Tesori and a book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, this really is a fun show for all ages.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Shrek Tour Dream Team

There are only 8 more performances for the Shrek Tour dream team at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

More importantly that means you have just 1 week left to catch the UK's #1 leading lady in the Midlands before she heads back to Bonny Scotland for the next leg of the tour in Glasgow.

You may remember I featured a video from theatre blogger Amy Stutz earlier this month. Here is her review of the show where she tells us that Faye is a far better Fiona than Amanda Holden and Kimberley Walsh who played the role in the West End.

No surprise there. She outshone Sheridan Smith as Elle Woods and is simply perfect as Princess Fiona.


SINCERELY, AMY - SHREK REVIEW

Once upon a time in a land far away lived a well known Ogre that we all know and love, the charming and hilarious tale has been taken from screen to stage to create the spectacular Shrek The Musical. Last night was the second show at the Hippodrome and it was electric, roars of laughter echoed in the audience as the humour from the film is amplified in the hilariously outstanding show.

The musical brings the story to life as it delves deeper into the storyline producing a much more developed version of the film. It takes you back in time to Shrek and Fiona’s childhood, the characters appear inside a giant storybook as the adorable young Shrek and Fiona are sent away by their parents at the age of seven. Shrek is told to “go away” and live in the swamp which he later calls home and Fiona is banished to a tower guarded by a fearsome dragon until a prince comes to rescue her.

The show’s vibrancy is created by the enormous set and beautiful costumes that change in the blink of an eye. Whether it’s the towering castle, the huge menacing dragon or Shrek’s swamp, the scenes swiftly change in seconds capturing the magic of the show.

Yesterday I was taken on a backstage tour and I witnessed the enormity of the set, props and costume backstage. The quick changes in the show have to be executed rapidly as Fiona has a mere 50 seconds to transform from the beautiful princess to the green ogre. Thousands of pounds have been spent on the intricacy of the costumes, each fairytale character is portrayed perfectly through the use of costume and make up, not a single detail was overlooked when it came to designing each character’s image.

Dean Chisnall who played the title role of Shrek captured the character perfectly, he was loveable yet his sarcasm and wit had the audience in fits of laughter. Not to mention his powerful and faultless vocals that were highlighted in the more touching moments of the show, I had goosebumps as he sang the finale of the first act Who I’d Be making it my favourite number in the show.

Faye Brookes who played Fiona had immaculate stage presence, her energy never dipped as she portayed the fiesty Fiona as a strong sassy princess. Fiona is a character famous for being played by celebrities such as Amanda Holden and Kimberley Walsh but Faye Brookes blew them out of the water. Her flawless singing and vivacity created an exceptional performance.

Idriss Kargbo’s  played the flamboyant role of Donkey. I thought it would be hard to beat Eddie Murphy, who is well known for playing Donkey in the film, however Idriss moulded the character in his own way. His character was original and he mastered the dynamic energy of the role exquisitely. His brilliant comedy seemed effortless and for such a young performer his characterisation was sensational.

Gerard Carey had the challenging role of the pint sized Lord Farquard. What made the role challenging was that he performed on his knees throughout the show to create the illusion that he was very small which was highly entertaining. His portrayal of the character was remarkable and had the audience bursting with laughter.

Every single one of the cast members were outstanding and I was particularly impressed with Candace Furbert who was the voice of the dragon as her vocals were utterly breathtaking. Josh Prince’s choreography was incredible, his huge dazzling dance numbers made the show the spectacle that it is.

I absolutely adored the show, it was brilliantly cast and had me smiling from ear to ear throughout the entirety of the performance. I really loved the way they poked fun at other musicals and it was an unforgettable show that I just want to watch over and over again.

I’d recommend this show to people of all ages and it’s a musical that is not to be missed. Shrek is on at the Hippodrome until the 26th of April.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Gareth's Proud of his Girl

Faye has been super busy since she arrived in Birmingham. The local press seem to realise they have stage royalty in town and they all want a chat with Shreks Princess.

This latest article from the Birmingham Mail talks about Gareth and how proud he is of his beautiful and very talented girlfriend. Despite a busy schedule himself he's been to every destination on the Shrek Tour to support and spend time with Faye.

Gareth Visits Faye in Birmingham 


It’s the show to make any musical star green with envy – especially Gareth Gates.

He has been in the audience at Birmingham Hippodrome, watching his girlfriend turn into a green ogre in Shrek.

But he’s delighted for Faye Brookes rather than jealous of her success.

He came to see her in Shrek The Musical with several members of his family, who all live in Birmingham.

Faye, who plays Princess Fiona, said before the show opened at the Hippodrome: “I’m from Manchester and Gareth is from Bradford, but his father Paul is from Birmingham.

“It always surprises me when I visit them what a strong Brummie accent he has. I love it."

“Gareth has a lot of cousins and family in Birmingham and they are all coming to see Shrek with him. He will be bringing all the clan."

“We are both very close to our families and that’s important to me.”

Gareth, 30, has found fame after Pop Idol (and joining The Big Reunion with 5th Story) in musicals like Les Miserables, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Boogie Nights and Legally Blonde, the show on which he met Faye.

Talking about her role as Princess Fiona, Faye admits: “I don’t like changing into the ogre, I have to say."

“I’m glad I’m not green for too long. The first time I saw myself as an ogre, I burst into tears!"

“I prefer being a Princess. What girl doesn’t want to wear a gorgeous dress made for her? I feel like Maid Marian in it."

“She’s so sassy and confident. As an ogre she is much more insecure."

“I too have a shell that I protect myself with, I’m not as thick skinned as Fiona.”

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Tamworth Herald Shrek Review

Have you ever had that thing where if you breath in too far you get an acute pain in your chest? It usually only lasts a couple of minutes and then you find you can breath normally again.

I had that for over 5 hours on last Friday and I've been a little breathless ever since. I went to the doctors and he sent me for a chest x-ray as a precaution.

I haven't seen him to go through the results yet but thankfully the nurse who did the x-ray said she couldn't see anything seriously wrong.

Maybe it's too be expected after watching Faye perform on so many occasions. I have after all commented many times on how breathtaking she is, both on and off stage.

Time for the latest Shrek the Musical review now. This one was written by Elise Chamberlain for the 'Tamworth Herald':

Tamworth Herald - Shrek the Musical Review:


IT'S official, I'm a believer!

Shrek the Musical's cult anthem featuring the entire cast rocking around the stage was the perfect end to a brilliant performance at the Birmingham Hippodrome last night (April 1).

Loveable characters, visually stunning costumes and props, and outstanding music – Shrek the Musical has it all.

Having really enjoyed the films, based on the book by William Steig, I wondered how well the story would transfer on to the stage.

The addition of great music by Jeanine Tesori, colourful and cleverly-designed costumes and an enormous, flirtatious puppet dragon controlled by multiple puppeteers brought the heart-warming story to life on a whole new scale.

The tale of Shrek the ogre setting off on a mission to rescue Princess Fiona from a dragon-guarded tower and return her to the Lord Farquaad is well-known to most for its alternative take on a traditional fairytale.

But the stage production goes beyond that, delving into the lives of the main stars in more depth and offering the audience a behind-the-scenes look into why they are the way they are.

Add in to the mix an exploding bird, inflatable reindeer, tapping rats and plenty of adult humour and you a fun and flamboyant show for all the family to enjoy.

Dean Chisnall was excellent as Shrek – what a voice! He brilliantly captured Shrek's aggression, kind-hearted nature and vulnerability in equal measures, really wowing in songs like Big Bright Beautiful World and Who I'd Be.

His sidekick Idriss Kargbo complemented him perfectly as Donkey, bringing immense energy to the role as well as fantastic facial expressions that kept the audience entertained.

Faye Brookes was outstanding as Princess Fiona, the classic fairytale princess with a refreshing hint of sarcasm and anger. To my delight, her powerful voice was given room to shine in numbers like I Know It's Today and Morning Person.

The brightest star of the night though was Gerard Carey, who played Lord Farquaad. He was, quite simply, brilliant.

It can't be easy to spend an entire production shuffling, dancing and leaping around the stage on your knees, but Carey made it look effortless - all the while plastering comical expressions across his face, engaging with the audience and leaving them roaring with laughter.

Sterling support came from a stellar cast of fairytale creatures, with Will Haswell (Pinocchio) and Candace Furbert (voice of the Dragon) particularly shining.

This is a wonderful family-friendly production for children and adults alike to enjoy - a true theatrical and musical gem!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Behind The Scenes Secrets

The Birmingham Daily Mail recently talked to Faye (Princess Fiona) and Dean (Shrek) about their very different transformations into big green ogres.

They also take a sneak peak backstage and reveal some interesting facts about this incredible production.

Some articles say Faye's on stage transformation from Princess to Ogre takes 90 seconds, others - like the one below - suggest it's more like 50. I've seen the show 12 times and I still couldn't be sure which is right; all I know is it's remarkably quick.

Shrek the Musical is at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Sunday 26th April.

BOOK TICKETS

There are 2 weeks and 16 performances left so you still have time to catch this years must see show and it's special Princess before they leave town. Don't miss out.

PRINCESS FIONA

Leading lady Faye Brookes takes just 50 SECONDS to transform into an ogre during the show.
“It has to be like a slick, very fast Formula One pit stop,” says company manager Neil White of the super-quick change.

“At least Dean doesn’t get green paint splashed on his face!” says Faye, who plays Princess Fiona.

“We have the change very carefully choreographed now. It comes quite near the end.

“I just stand there while two wardrobe people – one at the front and one at the back – strip off my princess outfit and put on my ogre suit.

“There are two people doing my wig and two people doing my make-up. They put my nose and head on, then the wig, then brush green paint all over my face.

“There’s no time for me to see what I look like. But the first time I saw myself in a mirror after the show, I burst into tears. It was such a shock!”

TURNING INTO AN OGRE

Leading man Dean Chisnall takes more than TWO hours for EVERY show to get into his green make-up.

He has to sit patiently while two make-up artists carefully glue on all the silicone prosthetic pieces which have been specially made to fit his face.

“I just zone out and can’t think about what’s happening around me,” says Dean. “I watch TV or read a book.

“For the first few times I played Shrek I did get a bit claustrophobic but it’s fine.

“The thing that really surprised me was just how unbearably hot it is in the costume. It feels light when you put it on but you sweat so much that it’s really heavy by the end.

“And parts of my face, especially my chin, are in danger of becoming unglued during the show so when I go offstage people push them back into place.

“I have to drink eight litres of water during the show to keep hydrated.

“It’s a real physical work-out, it’s exhausting, but I’m not complaining. Shrek is my dream role, parts don’t get much bigger than this!

“He’s an iconic character and to play him is a real thrill.”

Dean is the only member of the cast to have been in it from the beginning, when it opened in the West End in March 2011.

For the first year he understudied Shrek before taking over the role, then joining the UK tour which is now halfway through a two-year run.

The first time he actually played the ogre was in front of millions of TV viewers, during a live semi-final of Britain’s Got Talent because judge Amanda Holden was the original Fiona.

“I’ve done about 900 performances and at least 500 in the make-up Shrek,” says Dean.

“When I say it like that it’s frightening, but really I do love it. Even on matinee days when I keep the make-up on for 11 hours.

“You just get used to it. I get regular facials to cope with the battering my skin takes. I also have to be careful because I have eczema and a latex allergy, so I can’t have any latex, only silicone, next to my skin.”

WHAT GOES ON BACKSTAGE?

Backstage at this spectacular musical is a treasure trove of colourful, quirky objects.

There’s a white rabbit next to a puppet Puss in Boots and an animatronic Gingy – a gingerbread man biscuit with attitude.

In the corner is the dragon, who is operated by four puppeteers. She’s remarkably light but you have to be careful with her fragile silk and sequins.

Over there is a sign saying “I do believe in fairies!” next to a big Shrek padded bottom.

The fabulous fairytale costumes are lined up, from Red Riding Hood and Snow White to Pinocchio and the Three Blind Mice.

In the corridor are a selection of Shrek fatsuit bodies, drying out after the washing machine.

Upstairs is head of make-up Craig Forrest from Dickens Heath, who has to make sure everyone looks their best – or greenest.

Open a drawer in his department and you can find silicone hands and baby Shrek heads.

Company manager Neil White says: “The great thing about Shrek is that it’s so colourful, as we bring the animation to life.

“And everything that was in the Drury Lane show is here, it’s not a scaled-down version but the West End show.

“It’s clever because it works on two levels. It appeals so much to children but there is also humour for adults that goes over their heads.”

SHREK THE MUSICAL IN NUMBERS

26 actors in the cast.

90 people work backstage, including a 13 piece orchestra, four in make-up, four in wigs and 15 in wardrobe.

23 of the cast play 115 different characters.

They need 100 wigs and 300 costumes.

£100 is the cost of just one prosthetic pig’s nose.

The set and props are transported in nine articulated trucks. The crew had just 48 hours to move from Newcastle and set up in Birmingham.

19 is the age of actor Idiriss Kargbo who plays Donkey.