Return Of Swamp-Set Spectacular Heads New Programme Of Shows

Back in 2015, it was the show everyone was talking about as it saw a swamp, ogre, Peter Pan, the Mad Hatter and a huge fire-breathing dragon come to Norwich.

And Shrek is set to return to the Theatre Royal in 2018 as part of a programme of new shows announced today (Sept 14).

It joins two star-studded dramas, a classical music feast, the return of a show paying homage to an iconic band, and a spectacular magical celebration.

Shrek is set to delight audiences all ‘ogre’ again as the hero and the ever-loyal Donkey embark on a quest to rescue the moody Princess Fiona from her tower guarded by a fire-breathing but love-sick dragon.

Shrek the Musical, 2015 Company
Photo: Helen Maybanks

Add in the vertically-challenged Lord Farquaad, a host of fairy-tale misfits and a biscuit with attitude and you have a show which runs from June 26 to July 8 and is set to delight and enthral all ages.

Taking on the title role is Steffan Harri who played the role on the show’s very first tour and also has a string of West End credits including Les Misérables, Spamalot and Children of Eden.

His wise-cracking sidekick Donkey will be played by Marcus Ayton whose previous roles include Sammy Davis Jr in The Rat Pack Live, Ray Charles in A Tribute To The Brothers Live, and the UK tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Meanwhile Samuel Holmes will play the villainous Lord Farquaad. He is currently playing George in the UK tour of the Wedding Singer, and has previously appeared in the likes of Mrs Henderson Presents, Spamalot, Kiss Me Kate and Crazy For You.

The role of Princess Fiona is still to be confirmed for the Norwich performances but there will be local interest as King’s Lynn-born and bred Kevin Yates returns to the show in the ensemble. Also heading back to the production to direct it is Nigel Harman, who directed the previous tour which came to Norwich and is also known for playing the role of Dennis Rickman in EastEnders.

Co-producer Nick Salmon said: “I am thrilled that the show will be reuniting many of the talented team members who have been involved in the production since day one. Nigel has gone from being Lord Farquaad in the West End to directing our touring production and Steffan, who was previously one of our hilarious Three Pigs, will be stepping into Shrek’s ogre-sized shoes. We can’t wait to bring this much-loved story to Norwich once more.”

A legend of a different sort takes centre-stage in winter 2018 as the Ruth Rendell classic Gallowglass comes to Norwich on February 20-24. Writing as Barbara Vine, the gripping story sees homeless youngster Joe snatched from the path of a tube train. His saviour Sandor tells him that he owns his life now and begins telling him a fairy-tale but as the lines of fantasy and reality blur, a chilling story of obsession emerges.

Full star casting is still to be announced but it is being presented by the Middle Ground Theatre Company who were behind A Murder Is Announced which came to Norwich Theatre Royal earlier this year.

Three of Britain’s most acclaimed and experienced actors bring the classic play Art to the stage on April 23-28.

Nigel Havers, Denis Lawson and Stephen Tompkinson star as long-time friends Serge, Marc and Yvan. When Serge buys a large, expensive, completely white painting to indulge his love of art, Marc is absolutely horrified and their friendship is affected, so it is left to Yvan to try and bring the two of them together.

Acclaimed by critics as a masterpiece of modern theatre, the play has won Olivier, Tony, Moliere and every other major world theatre award.

The Britten Sinfonia and acclaimed conductor Thomas Adès return on Sunday May 27 to perform Beethoven Symphonies 4 and 5, as part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival’s 2018 programme at the Theatre Royal.

The mix of symphonies will see the perennially popular and vivacious 5th combine with the more moving and subdued 4th to provide an evening of classical variety.

The concert will also feature the piano concerto by the inventive Irish composer Gerald Barry which was written specially for, and will be performed by, the acclaimed pianist Nicholas Hodges.

It is a case of happy 40th anniversary for the hit show Rumours of Fleetwood Mac which takes to the stage on Wednesday 21 March (corrected date). This brand new show has been revamped to mark the milestone and will feature a live performance of the Rumours album note for note in its entirety.

The Champions Of Magic

And, fresh from a sold-out tour and a run in London’s West End, those masters of illusion the Champions Of Magic make their Norwich Theatre Royal debut on Sunday 1 April.

Incredible mind-reading, close-up magic and daring grand illusions will all be a part of this show which will also feature disappearances, levitation, teleportation and a heart-stopping finale.

And there will be magic of a different kind as chat-show King, Sir Michael Parkinson, is live on stage on January 30 in a rescheduled date after a previous visit was postponed to allow him to recover from minor surgery.

Packed with reminiscences and the chance to see some classic interviews from the Parkinson archive, this is a great opportunity to discover the story of a Yorkshire legend from pit-village to the man who quizzed the rich and famous on prime-time TV.

John Bultitude, of Norwich Theatre Royal, said: “We are so excited to welcome Shrek back to the city. The gentle giant and his friends brought theatrical magic last time they were with us and are sure to put a smile on everyone’s summer next year. The incredibly-talented cast and the stunning direction of Nigel Harman make this a must-see.

“Add in a multi-award-winning play featuring three of Britain’s most highly-regarded and best-loved actors, a suspense thriller guaranteed to play on the emotions, musical performances from a range of genres and a jaw-dropping night of illusion, and 2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year at Norwich Theatre Royal.”


The Britten Sinfonia concert and An Audience With Sir Michael Parkinson are already on sale.

The on-sale dates for all other new shows are:

  • Monday 18 Sept – Gold Friend and Corporate Club
  • Tuesday 19 Sept – Friends online
  • Thursday 21 Sept – Friends in person and by phone
  • Monday 25 Sept – Public online
  • Wednesday 27 Sept – Public booking in person and by phone