It would be easy to automatically assume that “Shrek The Musical” is nothing more than a stage adaptation of the 2001 Dreamworks Animation film. While the story behind the musical uses the source material pretty closely, there are a few tweaks here and there. The magic mirror is no where to be found most notably. Thus if you are a fan of the animated film, the live adaptation is a pretty easy to recommend.
For others on the fence about the concept, an animated film brought to life on stage can be a tricky proposition. When so many already have built in expectations in their head about what it should be, things either go well or completely miss the mark. In the case of the touring production of “Shrek The Musical” the show falls toward the positive side of the middle ground. Having grown quite tired of Shrek in a movie theater”Shrek The Musical” is a refreshing reminder of why I liked the first film after it quickly wore out its welcome in sequels.
For as much fun as “Shrek” pokes fun at the well known tropes of the fairy-tale it is itself a fairy-tale at its core.”Shrek The Musical” is a production brought to life by some of the highest production values I’ve seen on stage for a touring production. From the large puppet dragon, with an outstanding soulful voice provided by Carrie Compere that must be “slayed” in order to get the princess, to the animated sets, and Pinocchio’s growing nose. Those were some of the more whiz bang things I noticed but also worth mention is Shrek’s costume as well as his would be foil, when he isn’t his own worst enemy, in Lord Farquaad, the, well, shorter than life stage stealing role by David F.M. Vaughn.
Technical wizardry and the money to back such things of course do not a great show make however. That isn’t to say “Shrek The Musical” is lacking anything in particular its just that it falls exactly in line with what you expect it to be. There is a song that revolves around farts and belches, there several “adult jokes” mixed in that sail above the kid’s heads but incite a hearty belly laugh in adults, the love story, etc… I should note that if not obvious, Shrek The Musical is safe for all ages, though to the parents that couldn’t bring themselves to remove their screaming and crying child from the music hall in act one, shame on you, learn some manners.
I have to mention the “ensemble” as it were which consisted of all the outcast Fairy-tale characters in the swamp. The whole group had some great energy that really pops off stage. That positive note mentioned, I have to come down on the show for leaving in “I’m A Believer” the song remains as groan inducing in this stage production as it did over the end credits of the film.
I give “Shrek The Musical” 3 “what’s Funkhouser doing here(s)?” out of 5
By John Coovert