"Shrek The Musical, based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks film that started it all, brings the hilarious story of everyone’s favorite ogre to life on stage. In a faraway kingdom turned upside down, things get ugly when an unseemly ogre – not a handsome prince – shows up to rescue a feisty princess. Throw in a donkey who won’t shut up, a villain with a SHORT temper, a cookie with an attitude and over a dozen other fairy tale misfits, and you’ve got the kind of mess that calls for a real hero. Luckily, there’s one on hand… and his name is Shrek.
Featuring a terrific score of 19 all-new songs, big laughs, great dancing and breathtaking scenery, Shrek The Musical is part romance, part twisted fairy tale and all irreverent fun for everyone."
My youngest son and I both wanted very much to see this show but we were afraid that snow might prevent us from attending the performance. Then two dear friends gave us their tickets for the matinee and the predicted snow disappeared. I doubt that we would have gotten tickets right before the show because the house was packed; we saw a few friends before the curtain to the beautiful Palace stage was raised. I had downloaded the original cast album a year ago because I actually had met two of them. appeared as the original Pinocchio/Magic Mirror/Dragon puppeteer and Aymee Garcia appeared as Mama Bear/Gingy and Dragonette. So I knew the music would be good and the videos I had seen seemed promising.
Visually this show is impressive; it truly is "A Big Bright Beautiful World." While never crossing into cartoonish, all the "illusions" were well-done. The costumes and makeup were wonderful, from Shrek's rags to Witch's colorful dress and Fiona's wedding gown. Amazingly, the original costumes, sets and puppets were all designed by one man, Tim Hatley. The Dragon puppet is new and improved for the tour and required four puppeteers dressed in black to work her. After a while, we forgot they were there. The sets were constantly changing and fun. The Magic Mirror has been removed, probably because he doesn't travel well. We had fun counting the references to iconic musicals, including Dreamgirls, Once Upon a Mattress, Wicked, Gypsy, Rent, Le Miz and even a nod to Madonna.
The 19 songs were written for the show, except for "Welcome to Duloc" (that appeared in the first Shrek movie) and "I'm a Believer" sung by the entire cast after the curtain call. Some changes have been made since the original cast recorded the CD. "Build A Wall" has been cut, and so has "Donkey Pot Pie." Those that remain include when Fionas at three different ages sing "I Know It's Today" in beautiful harmony and "Freak Flag" is performed by all the fairy tale characters. "Who I'd Be" featured Shrek, Fiona and Donkey singing three different songs together and not only does it work, it gave me chills. The musicians in the pit had to play while often buried in fog in the pit; the talented drummer still sounded great.
All the members of the cast manage to give a human face to the animated characters. Some actors in the ensemble cover several parts and all were great dancers, especially as dancing rats in "Morning Person." Luke Yellin as Pinocchio used a high squeaky voice and his growing nose to perfection. Andre Jordan as Donkey (a "GPS with fur") put his own hoof print on the Eddie Murphy part. Merritt David James performs on his knees as Lord Farquaad for almost the entire show; I hope he had the knee pads that the Duloc dancers wore under his costume. Lukas Poost seemed to thoroughly enjoy taking on the role of the green ogre and certainly had the children in the audience on his side. Liz Shivener played the "bit bi-polar" Fiona as well as the original, Sutton Foster. The two children who appeared were great as well.
Shrek the Musical is funny and wonderfully produced. It truly is a family show that appeals to the young for obvious reasons and has enough adult "stuff" to keep the parental units entertained.