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Meet the actor who plays the pint-sized villain in Shrek The Musical

PUBLISHED: 18:03 04 July 2018 | UPDATED: 18:03 04 July 2018

Shrek The Musical
Photo: Helen Maybanks

Shrek The Musical Photo: Helen Maybanks

Helen Maybanks

He may be pint-sized but Lord Farquaad has a big part to play in Shrek The Musical. Arts correspondent Emma Knights speaks to actor Samuel Holmes about playing the show's villain.

Samuel Holmes play Lord Farquaad in Shrek The Musical. Photo: Emma KnightsSamuel Holmes play Lord Farquaad in Shrek The Musical. Photo: Emma Knights

While most people think everyone’s favourite swamp-dwelling ogre is the star of Shrek The Musical, one of the show’s characters has other ideas.

“I think the funniest thing about the character Lord Farquaad is that he thinks the show is called Lord Farquaad and he thinks it’s his show and that everyone else is sort of in the way a bit really, especially Shrek!” said Samuel Holmes who plays the 4ft 2ins villain who evicts the fairytale characters from their homes and sends Shrek off in search of Princess Fiona to be his bride.

“His whole raison d’être is to find a princess, marry her, become king, rule the land, it’s the usual despot sort of thing.

“He thinks he’s the star of the show and of course he isn’t, and so you see this comedy of frustration of this man trying to consistently bring it all back to him and it all sort of goes awry.”

Shrek The Musical
Photo: Helen MaybanksShrek The Musical Photo: Helen Maybanks

A key part of the comedy is of course Lord Farquaad’s pint-sized appearance created by Samuel performing the entire show on his knees.

“It is hard work because physically I’ve never done that before,” said Samuel, who is originally from Plymouth and whose previous shows have included UK and international tours of Spamalot and also Monty Python Live at the O2.

“I’ve done about 28 years of theatre work and of course I’ve always acted on my feet, and then I was thrown this curveball and this very clever costume and rig for acting on your knees, and it is actually very comfortable because it’s well constructed, but when we do double show weekends, when we do two on a Saturday, two on a Sunday, it can get a little bit arduous because it’s tiring and everything works differently, the diaphragm works differently, how I look at people, everything changes.

“Obviously when I’m stood singing I don’t have to think about it because I’m so used to it, but being 4ft 2ins and having to do it, it’s a little bit more difficult!”

Shrek The Musical Photo: ©Tristram KentonShrek The Musical Photo: ©Tristram Kenton

He added: “It’s good fun and the audience spend the first 30 seconds when I walk on trying to work out how it’s done, and after about 30 seconds I no longer want them to think about me as a 6ft 1in man, I want them just to go that’s the character and he is 4ft 2ins. That’s very important.”

And when asked in general terms what he loved most about being in the stage version of the much-loved DreamWorks film, Samuel said it was the camaraderie and fun backstage as well as the comedy onstage.

“If you could sell tickets for backstage that would be a real hit!” he joked.

“It’s a great fun show to do and because the audience already know part of it, it makes our job a little bit easier and also a little bit harder, but it’s nice that they come knowing what to expect and then we throw things that they wouldn’t expect and that’s great fun.

“They think they are going down one path and we go, no we will take you here!”

He added: “I just like doing fun stuff, silly stuff because there’s enough seriousness out there!”

• Shrek The Musical is at Norwich Theatre Royal until Sunday.

To book, visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 630000.

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