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Interview: Idriss Kargbo, Donkey in Shrek


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Probably the most loved character across all films and the musical, Donkey is a personality only the best can master. After the usual pleasantries, I chat with Idriss Kargbo, who not only plays the role in the UK tour of Shrek The Musical, but lives and breathes it in true Donkey style.

“People that know me very well that Idriss is Donkey,” he laughs. “I am a bit annoying sometimes and I do talk a lot. Donkey is just like me and he doesn’t stop.”

It’s immediately clear that both actor and character cross over. Idriss’ confidence in chatting to me in the empty auditorium is just how you’d expect. I could already tell that my time with Donkey was to be memorable.

Prior to playing Donkey, 19-year-old Idriss studied at Urdang Academy (an independent performing arts academy in North London) and appeared in The Lion King, Thriller! UK and Oliver - impressive.

He says: “This show for me was never in mind and when I was auditioning for a couple of shows and this was in the pipeline I never thought that this is where I would end up.

“When my agent called me telling me I got the role I thought he was lying and cried my eyes out. I couldn’t even finish the conversation. My mum had to continue speaking to my agent. I never ever thought that I’d be donkey in the Shrek UK tour. It’s crazy.”

From Donkey to Idriss’ humble beginnings, we talk of his short time at Urdang Academy.

“I loved my time at Urdang.  I was on the three year musical theatre course. I was only there for a year and because I luckily got a job at the end of my first year.

“It was a risk and I just didn’t know if I was ready to start working straight away. I just thought, I’ve been handed this opportunity to work with an amazing team. College would always be there, but a job offer wouldn’t and I’m so glad I took it otherwise I wouldn’t be here today.

“I wouldn’t be able to do what I do eight times a week if I didn’t have my training at Urdang.”

It’s so obvious that Kargbo adores every part of his job. He continues: “Last night was insane. It really was like performing at a rock concert after we came off stage. The audience were incredible and before coming here we were all a little bit anxious see how everyone would take us.”

However, like every show, Shrek’s lifetime is finite - so we move on to chat about Idriss’ dream role on the West End.

“At the moment I would be Lola in Kinky Boots," he says. "I saw the show about two years ago in New York and it was probably one of the most incredible things I’ve ever see. I was like “I want to play that part”. It just speaks so much volume about a person’s life and how they get to a certain stage in their life and how people judge them.

“It’s all about love and passion and what other people might have had to go through in life. I’m too young at the moment, but who knows.”

And back to Shrek, of course. I ask Idriss to pitch the show to those who have never heard or seen the production.

“I would just say that it is a family fun filled musical. You come not expecting much or not knowing what to expect and everyone leaves on a high no matter what mood you come in feeling.

“We speak to people after the show and hear that the adults enjoy it more than the kids, you just find that it really is for everyone. There is someone that speaks volume to everyone. That’s what we are so proud about.

“That’s what our show does.”

Shrek The Musical is at the Birmingham Hippodrome until April 26th. Read our review here

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