Shrek The Musical stomped its way into town last night and it is a great show. The last Broadway show I saw (twice) was Wicked and it is pretty magnificent, so I was hoping Shrek would be in the same league. It is. The sets and costumes are gorgeous, the dragon puppet is really magical and most of the songs are a pleasure to hear. There are a few songs that go into depth with some of the characters that miss the mark for me, but most others shine.
This version of Shrek begins with a seven year old Shrek and a seven year old Fiona, explaining why they are found the way they are – alone in a swamp and alone in a tower. The young lady that played young Fiona for opening night did a wonderful job portraying the character in the same manner as Liz Shivener as the adult Princess Fiona. In “I Know Its Today,” the young, teenaged and adult Fionas come together on stage to finish out the song in harmony.
The downside for me were the song numbers for the Fairytale Creatures. Although their costumes were magnificent and highly detailed, their songs “Story of My Life” and “Freak Flag” made the show longer and took away from the better stories involving Shrek, Donkey, Fiona, the Dragon and Lord Farquaad. The Fairytale Creatures do repeat some of the funnies from the movie and garner some laughs. Pinocchio is featured as the leader of the Fairytale Creatures and although he isn’t really one of my favorite characters from Shrek, his magical nose redeems him a bit.
The best addition is the Dragon. She gets her own song (performed by Kelly Teal Goyette) and dance number. When Shrek and Donkey first enter the Dragon’s tower, and Donkey gets left behind while Shrek goes to find the princess, a few very bearded knights appear locked in stocks. At first I was thinking, “Whoa, there aren’t supposed to be knights who are alive here(!)” but what a great addition! The dragon puppet is really detailed – it is the movie dragon come to life. Her gleaming fuchsia body is controlled with 4 puppeteers that move her deftly around the stage. It’s the greatest part of Shrek The Musical – catchy and funny song, great dance number, magical dragon with glowing eyes, bright and flashy background – great stuff. It would have been wonderful material to include in the original movie to explain more about Dragon and Donkey falling in love.
The actors do their best to sound like the actors from Shrek. You can hear Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy in Lukas Poost’s Shrek and André Jordan’s Donkey. Merritt David Janes does a great rendition of whiny, self-important Lord Farquaad with a whole lot more flair. And he does it on his knees the whole time!
Although my favorite joke didn’t make the musical -Shrek referring to the castle surrounded by lava with “Sure it’s big enough, but look at the location,” (laughs EVERY TIME!)- the fun new songs, beautiful backdrops and fart jokes galore make Shrek The Musical a hit for all ages.
If you go:
Shrek The Musical has shows at The Ohio Theatre on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm, and Sunday at 1pm and 6:30pm. Ticket prices are $28 and $78. Buy tickets here. (Photo credits for Feature Image of Shrek – Lukas Poost as Shrek in SHREK THE MUSICAL 2011 – 2012 national tour, photo by Joan Marcus).