Faye was back on English soil yesterday using her day off to catch up with family and friends to watch Gareth performing in the Big Reunion Tour at the Manchester Arena.
However, with the Shrek tour about to start it's second week of three at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, she'll be returning to Dublin tonight and I thought it was about time for another review.
This one was written by John McKeown for the Irish Independent:
Review: Shrek The Musical at Bord Gais Energy Theatre
Many people, particularly parents, have
doubtless suffered from Shrek fatigue over the last few years, and now,
here comes the song and dance version. The good news is this Dreamworks
produced musical of the Dreamworks film is no safe retread, but a
brilliantly effective reimagining of the story in musical theatre
David Lindsay-Abaire's book and lyrics, aiming at adults as
much, if not more, than children, whips the story of Shrek the Ogre's
(Dean Chisnall) quest to free the Princess Fiona (Faye Brookes) from the
dragon on behalf of the loathsome Lord Farquaad (Gerard Carey) along at
an agreeable pace. The dialogue is often as witty as the lyrics and
the songs grow organically out of the conversation before soaring off in
The donkey's (Idriss Kargbo) insistence
to the unconfident Shrek that it's time to tell the rescued Princess how
he feels turns into 'Make A Move,' involving the sparklingly outfitted
Three Blind Mice, complete with canes. Shrek and the Princess'
comparing of their hard-luck stories turns into a contest of miseries in
'I Think I Got You Beat,' a duet performed to a heavy bluesy rhythm.
Two opens with the Princess singing what is an initially simple rustic
number about the joys of the morning but which transmogrifies into a
truly wonderful dazzling tap-dancing number with rats on the run from
the Pied Piper in top-hats and tails.
No two numbers are the same or even similar, and in director
Nigel Harman's production, the performance of each seems determined to
outdo the one before until we feel swept up in an ever-ascending curve
of excitement. Though perhaps less a curve than a wave, without any
We'd be forgiven for thinking the show has peaked early on
with an amazingly mad performance from Carey as the Lord Farquaad and
his minions celebrating his imminent self-promotion to kingship in
'Welcome to Duloc.' Carey is screamingly funny, on his knees throughout
the show, throwing a pair of short skinny legs around, posturing,
preening, and pantomime-dameing for all he's worth.
Tim Hatley's set, costuming, and puppet design, in concert
with Hugh Vanstone's highly animated lighting, creates lush, stylish,
fairy-tale explosive effects. While Dave Rose's orchestra enjoys a
vibrantly symbiotic relationship with Josh Prince's inspired
Shrek the movie seems flat after this relentlessly entertaining musical.
I might have to appeal to the high courts about Nicky's No.1 Fan status though. If you look at the 2014 Edition of 'Andy's Official Guide to Fan Rankings' book - Volume 3, Chapter 7, Section 4.2 - it clearly states family members should not be included in the calculation ; )
Kidding of course but hopefully Faye has room for two No.1 Fan's.
Faye and her wonderful co stars on the Shrek tour yesterday finished their two week run at the Grand Opera House in Belfast and will now be busy packing up their belongings as they prepare to head 100 miles south to Dublin.
touring team are on the tour bus & en route from Belfast to Dublin!
"Oh what the heck, I must confess, I love a road trip!" #ShrekDublin
The 'Luck of the Irish' definitely applies for at least the next three
weeks because everyones favourite Ogre and Princess will be dazzling
audiences at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre until 9th November.
I believe green is very much the prominent colour in Ireland so hopefully Shrek and Fiona should fit right in.
Have a fantastic time in the Emerald City Faye and 'Send my love to the leprechauns. . . .'
Check out this wonderful interview Faye did with 'Manchesters Finest' ahead of Shrek Tours visit to the Palace Theatre in December.
She talks about what it will be like going back to the theatre she worked at as a kid, the bonus of being home at Christmas, the differences between Shrek the Muscial and the film and how working in shows on tour differs to the West End.
We get to hear her tell us all about the character of Fiona, how great it is to play a fairytale Princess and how she wanted to put her own stamp on the role.
Oh, and she's a girls girl, prefers Princesses to Ogre's and is the first Fiona to wear hot pants :)
Wednesday nights are not going to be the same without the fantastic Our Zoo but here on the blog we're not quite ready to say goodbye to Upton.
I couldn't upload a video of every second Faye spent on screen in the first series of Our Zoo due to You Tube restrictions but I have managed to put together a 20 minute compilation of Frankie's highlights.
The Shrek tour reviews from Belfast have started to appear online and it's no surprise that this fantastic show is proving a massive hit in Northern Ireland.
This review below was written by Anne Hailes for the Belfast Times and as you'll see she was full of praise for the show and it's amazing cast:
Anne Hailes reviews: Shrek the Musical
At last, a brilliant show suitable for children and adults alike with fun, music and magic all the way. When a 10 year old says the stage show is better than the film you know the company has succeeded. The show is based on the book by William Steig and is a well known Dreamworks Animation film but to see it on stage is mega. A touring show that’s as fresh as paint is a rare thing and this is it, just a joyous entertainment for all the family. A few funny adult comments, lots of good jokes and a fulsome band backing great singers.
The programmes says .. Starring …. but they are all stars and there must be almost 30 of them. First you identify with Shrek (Dean Chisnall) poor gentle ogre, then his Donkey with attitude (Idriss Kargbo) steals your heart; Lord Farquadd of the expressive eyebrows (Gerard Carey) turns out to be the love child of Grumpy of Seven Dwarfs fame and a word here, how Gerard acted on his knees for the whole show was a minor miracle and has to be seen to be believed. Speaking of theatrical tricks, the dragon fills the stage and it’s awesome to see how it swoops and dives only adds to the thrill.
The story is brilliant as it incorporates so many fairy tales and all the characters come together to challenge the horror that is Lord Farquadd, (I love their song Let Your Freak Flag Fly), and they get the better of him. The finale is only to be seen to be believed, Pinocchio, Snow White, Three Blind Mice, Peter Pan, Three Bears, Red Riding Hood, the Ugly Duckling and at one stage The Pied Piper leads one of the best numbers in the show with his rats in white ties and tails. And just to make the party complete on comes Lord Farquadd’s dad, Grumpy.
There’s a lot of dry ice which gives the fairy tail a touch of unreality just as it should, the make up is incredible and the costumes pristine. There’s even a Carrickareed Rope Bridge over molten lava which leads to the castle prison holding the beautiful Princess Fiona (stunning and funny Faye Brookes).
We all go home on the wings of the big number, I’m A Believer knowing that Shrek has found the love of his life – and so has Princess Fiona.
Terrific, terrific, terrific.
Firstly, I just want to point out that this is the blogs 250th post. Not bad in less than two and a half years if I do say so myself. Faye has been so busy and successful during this time that running her blog has been a full time job.
Now as I'm sure you know the first series of Our Zoo came to an end last night. Although Faye's character Frankie is last seen in tears after being fired from her position on the council, it was another wonderful episode.
I'm praying they'll be a second series where hopefully the Mottersheads will find Frankie a job at the zoo for helping them win their appeal and I'd love to see an Oakwood wedding for her and Billy Atkinson.
Hopefully we'll all be returning to Upton next year but even if that doesn't materialise Faye shouldn't be short of offers from other TV shows after her superb acting in Our Zoo. She's such a talented and versatile actress, any show would be lucky to have her.
If you haven't already done so, watch the video above showing her highlights from last nights episode.
Belfast is preparing to be invaded by a giant green ogre, a beautiful princess and a host of fairytale creatures as the Shrek tour lands at the Grand Opera House tomorrow.
Unfortunately I wont be able to travel to Northern Ireland to see the show but if you're lucky enough to go, please give Faye a super load cheer.
The article below was written by Jenny Lee for 'The Irish News'.
The big bad wolf, Puss in Boots, Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, The Gingerbread man, the Sugarplum Fairy - I didn't know who I was going to meet next during a whirlwind tour backstage of Shrek The Musical. More than 100 cast and crew are involved the show, which opens in Belfast tomorrow night, with seven lorry loads of equipment transporting sets and equipment to each venue during this debut tour of Ireland and Britain. They even bring their own washing machines and driers to each venue. Behind-the-scenes staff include four wardrobe staff, four wig staff, four make-up artists, two electricians, a carpenter and a physio and 11 local dressers at each venue.
The backstage area is a myriad of costumes, masks, ears, ogre parts, pigs noses, Pinocchio noses and the stunning dragon which is operated by four puppeteers. The hand-sewn detail on the costumes, the shelves filled with green faced prosthetics and Princess Fiona wigs quickly make you realise just how professional this show is. "This show relies on everyone's skillset, from film quality make-up artist to the actors on stage. It's a spectacle and this is why it's been such a success. If you imagine what panto should be like this is it," said an enthusiastic company manager Neil White. Each performance involves 110 characters and 'swing' cast members can undergo 10 changes during a single performance. There are hot flannels aplenty to remove make-up during quick changes and even vodka in a spray that can to help disguise the smell of sweat. The musical boasts its own dedicated make-up department, with Shrek's make-up alone costing £2,000 a week - and putting it on takes more than two hours. On days he also has matinee performances Dean Chisnall (32), who has played Shrek in both the West End and touring productions, arrives at the theatre as early as 8am and might not leave until after 10pm. He's "more used to seeing myself in a mirror with a green
face on than I am seeing myself". "This show is really demanding and has taken over my life. But I wouldn't change it for the world. It's a dream to get paid to be every child's hero," he says. Shrek the Musical is based on the story and characters from the 2001 Oscar winning DreamWorks Animation film which featured the voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy. Featuring all new songs as well as cult Shrek anthem I'm A Believer, Shrek The Musical brings the well-loved characters to life as Shrek and his loyal steed Donkey set off on a quest to rescue the beautiful Princess Fiona from her tower guarded by a fire-breathing love-sick dragon. Although the story is loved by children, there are references and jokes aimed squarely at adults too, mainly from the character Lord Farquhar. "It's a real family treat. The kids are overwhelmed with the costumes, the colours, the dragon and the set. But the surprising thing is how much the adults enjoy it. It's the dads that are made come along to the Saturday matinee that get out of their seats in the end and go nuts for it," says Neil. As well as heart and soul, Shrek is also full of morals. "It's great it gives everyone the message not to judge a book by its cover and all that. It is such an image-obsessed world in which we live - it's the part of this business I hate," adds Neil who doesn't hesitate when asked his favourite scene. "There is a scene at the end of act one which is the first and only time that Shrek opens up to Donkey and tells him where he's come from and what he'd like to be in life. For me it's a priceless piece of theatre and as the bloke playing the characters
is such an important moment in the show." It's an extremely physically demanding role - Dean dons a heavy Shrek suit and padding for each performance and admits he's lost weight playing the jolly big green fellow. "It's excruciatingly hot and at the end of the night the suit is quite disgusting," laughs Neil who while off stage is constantly followed by make-up artists prepared to glue back bits of his face if they slip due heat or sweat. "Per show I drink about seven litres of water. I'm not going to lie - it's bloody hard work - but I've never worked on a job where everything is as good as this and the attention to detail is phenomenal." Shrek's Princess is played by Faye Brookes (27) who previously appeared in Belfast playing the leading role in the Legally Blonde tour. She is also currently starring on the small screen in the popular BBC drama Our Zoo, playing the role of feisty council worker Frankie. "We had to challenge ourselves vocally with this show and I'm really privileged to have worked with our director Nigel Harmann who stepped us out of our comfort zone. I think that's why it's done so well on tour," she said. Although a fan of the less conventional Disney princesses, such as Pokahantus and Elmerando when she was younger, like most girls Faye dreamed of being a princess one day. "Nowadays with Frozen I'm totally Arendelle (the fictional setting of Disney's hit film). Anna is the nowadays princess I aspire to - the one who can pull funny faces and be a bit geeky." Shrek The Musical runs at Belfast's Grand Opera House from October 8 to 19. Goh.co.uk
Before the Shrek tour moves on to Belfast on Wednesday lets look back to Nottingham and see why the critics thought Faye was the perfect Princess Fiona.
IT'S MUCH MORE
Faye Brooks performance of the Princess Fiona different ages
encapsulated not only Princess’ but women of today waiting for Prince
Charming, I was very amused.
Meanwhile, everyone’s favourite princess,
played by Faye Brookes, clearly enjoys her role, gradually falling for
our straightforward ogre hero, who’s tasked with rescuing her from the
Faye Brooks is Princess Fiona and what a great stage persona she has,
instantly likeable, the kind of Princess who doesn't mind having a laugh
and a joke with the lads. Proving that she can be a token lad as well
in the scene where she and Shrek vie to who has had the hardest childhood.
The actors must also have credit where credit is due. Shrek and Fiona (Dean Chisnall and Faye Brookes respectively) were both impressive; humorous with the drop of lonesomeness which comes
from their saddened existences. Both also pack a fierce punch vocally,
although Brookes clearly has the outline of a trained Broadway singer
(easily projecting her voice into the power ballads of the higher
Chisnalls Shrek and Faye Brookes Princess Fiona are magical. Gorgeous chemistry, with just the right amount of prickliness and compassion on both sides. Like Chisnall Brookes was born to be on the stage, masterfully combining the complicated singing, dancing, acting and script of this whopping production.
Faye Brookes is perfectly cast as the bipolar Princess. Wonderful expressive acting backed up by superb vocals and some rather impressive dancing.
Sorry for the delay - 'technical hitch' as Shrek might say - but here are Faye's highlights from episode 5 of Our Zoo.
Needless to say I've been telling all my friends & family to watch Our Zoo & to look out for the talented young actress playing Agnes Franklin. I'm pleased but not surprised to report they all think she is superb & hope to see a lot more of her on TV in the future.
Surely that should be inevitable given her outstanding acting in this fabulous show.
Yesterday I made my way to Duloc for another Shrek adventure. It will be my last for a couple of month's because I wont be able to make it over to Belfast or Dublin which are the next two destinations on the tour.
I was meant to be meeting Faye before the show as she had a train to catch afterwards and wouldn't have any time to stop and chat. However 3 month's on tour had caught up with princess Fiona and after an early start for an 11am matinee she soon became Sleeping Beauty.
Soon after I got to the stage door she messaged me to let me know she'd fallen asleep after her earlier performance and was currently on her way back to the theatre after dashing out to get some food.
As she approached the stage door she was attacked from behind by an onrushing donkey. He was lacking his usual fur and makeup but seemed as friendly and jovial as he does on stage.
We did have time for a brief chat and I was able to tell her how amazing I thought she was in last weeks Our Zoo. I also let her know that I've told everyone I know to make sure they're watching and to look out for Faye's character Frankie. Needless to say they were all genuinely impressed.
Starting today the cast actually get their first week off since the tour started back in July and Faye said they're all ready for a break. Travelling all over the country, living out of a suitcase and putting on eight incredible high energy shows every week is bound to take it's toll. That said, if they are tired, they certainly don't show it in their performance. They have been nothing short of outstanding everytime I've seen the show.
Faye has exciting plans for this coming week. I hope she has a great time and enjoys here well earned break. It's a bit hush hush so I can't say any more but if you follow Faye and Gareth on Twitter I'm sure all will be revealed shortly.
We also discussed the amazing view from Faye and Gareth's new apartment in London. As you can see from the picture above which Gareth tweeted last week, it really is spectacular.
Before she dashed off to get ready for the second show I was able to give her Lucky the Leprechaun. Thanks to Legally Blonde whenever I think of Ireland I think of Leprechauns so I purchased Lucky to take care of Faye when the Shrek tour visits Ireland.
After a quick hug I made my way round to the main entrance, collected my ticket and took my seat in Row F of the stalls.
Faye takes my breath away everytime I seen her perform and yesterday was no different. The best all round performer in musical theatre, period. Sensational acting, step perfect dancing and the most beautiful voice I've ever heard. It will be a travesty if she gives up singing completely to concentrate on TV, maybe they could sign her up for Nashville.
Below is another glowing review of this wonderful show. This one was written by James Hamilton for 'Impact Magazine'
SHREK THE MUSICAL, THEATRE ROYAL NOTTINGHAM
IMPACT MAGAZINE REVIEW
Shrek the Musical is fun. Feeling rather optimistic
about seeing the production it was refreshing to see such an innovative
take on a film which was grounding breaking in both animation and
child/adult comedy genres. The play does have flaws, but then when you
are laughing uncontrollably it is unlikely those shadows will haunt your
mind for long in this excellent performance. The story is essentially the film. The edits which are made do fit
well, adding a focus to the ‘freaks’ and their freedom, both literally
and metaphorically, and whilst the feeling of being yourself no matter
what is nice, it does feel more catered towards the younger audience. The music, however, does move heavily away from the film, a factor
which has both pros and cons. For a film soundtrack which, perhaps
surprisingly, was so popular when released certain people may feel an
absence and disappointment that Shrek is singing a new power ballad
rather than looking glum to the melancholic ‘Hallelujah’. But this flaw
represents a poor attitude to take, as the music composed both fits more
appropriately to the action and complements the comedy and superb
singing skills. Moreover for those real diehard fans ‘I’m a Believer’
has a killer curtain call which will likely have the upper raptures
toe-tapping and humming along. But where the musical shines is design. Immediately you can tell that
this performance has been moved from the West End because the overall
technical aspect is fantastic. The set is polished and flows with a
seamless ease, impressive from curtains open to curtains close. From
swamp to castle, the ability to swap locations is practiced and brings
refreshing colour to a period where plays rely so heavily on darker
repertoires. Furthermore costume is sublime. The characters are based on fairytale
creatures after all, and thus offer a beautiful creative range which is
explored to the maximum. Pinocchio, 3 Little Pigs and ogres all come to
life on the stage and feel believable. But what is the most impressive
element for me is the sheer ingenuity behind the designs, not merely
relying on make-up or masks. The audience witnesses puppetry,
ventriloquism and full body transformations to name but a few.
Particular mention has to go to Lord Farquaad and the Gingerbread Man,
whose whole characters are so well conceived and hilarious that they
light up the stage with just their presence. Also the dragon is a sight
to be seen. Fact. The actors must also have credit where credit is due. Shrek and Fiona (Dean Chisnalland Faye Brookes respectively) were both impressive; humorous with the drop of lonesomeness which
comes from their saddened existences. Both also pack a fierce
punch vocally, Brookes clearly has the outline of a trained
Broadway singer (easily projecting her voice into the power ballads of
the higher register numbers). Idriss Kargbo as Donkey definitely has the eccentricity of the role,
although his annoyance did sometimes come across as being annoying
annoying rather than funny annoying. This might be a result personally
of searching for Eddie Murphy within the role (a flaw of a good film and
not the actor himself). However the standout again comes in the role of
Lord Farquaad played by Gerard Carey. For a man with a huge power
complex, witty one-liners and huge potential for physical and gestural
humour, Carey exhibits and uses the chances perfectly. Shrek the Musical in a nutshell is the film. It uses lines,
songs and jokes which for fans of the film is great, seeing as the film
caters humour for such a wide range of audience. Whilst at times the
play did feel it was dumbing down to child humour, it then sparked a
glimpse of adult humour which lightens it up. Ultimately it is a play
which does not take itself seriously – for the better. When a play can
parody Les Miserables, Wicked and The Lion King along with itself, then it is a chance to experience a highly enjoyable and professional production.
If you enjoyed Faye’s ‘Our Zoo’ highlights I posted yesterday from episode 3, you’re going to love this video from episode
Faye’s character Frankie is now heavily involved.
We get to see her rescue a snake from the exterminator at
the council offices, become close friends with the Mottersheads, look
absolutely stunning in a 1930's floral dress at a benefit to raise funds for the zoo
and start a potential relationship with Billy Atkinson - the mischievous brother of Lizzie Mottershead - played by Ralf Little.
Her acting throughout was nothing short of sensational and
it’s surely only a matter of time before she’s a household name. As Nigel Harman
said in a recent interview, soon everyone will be talking about Faye Brookes.