Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Shrek the Musical: An "ogre"-dose of fun

Burping. Farting. Air-guitar. No, this is not a description of my husband's and his buddies' man-cave joys. This is "Shrek the Musical," the theatrical adaptation of DreamWorks' 2001 award-winning CG film, "Shrek."
On July 12, Hollywood rolled out the "green" carpet to the cast and crew of "Shrek the Musical," which ends its national year-long tour here in L.A.

Directed by Jason Moore and Rob Ashford, with lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori, the musical takes the audience on a whimsical journey (complete with the aforementioned activities and some fun Easter eggs) as we follow Shrek (Eric Petersen), the giant, mean, and scary ogre, on his quest through the land of Duloc at Lord Farquaad's (David F.M. Vaughn) bidding to rescue the fair Princess Fiona (Haven Burton) from the dragon. Accompanying him is a lovably irritating (or irritatingly lovable) donkey appropriately named Donkey (Alan Mingo Jr.).

Contrary to most fairy tales, "Shrek the Musical" provides a light twist to the traditional fairy tale formula with its unlikely heroes in Shrek the outcast ogre, Donkey, and a cast of familiar misfit fairy tale characters (such as the 3 Bears, a wicked witch, and Gingy the Gingerbread Man). Even the Lord Farquaad is not your typical "handsome prince" type.

As with all fairy tales, in the end happiness abounds. True to the story's theme of
"by the book isn't always right" however, it's the ugly ogre who wins the hand and heart of the Princess Fiona.

One of the challenges of bringing a film with popular and well-loved characters to the stage is allowing the actors to re-interpret those roles, while maintaining the relationship already established by the film with the audience. Those who've seen the film "Shrek" will be pleased with Petersen's and Mingo's portrayal of their respective characters. The audience is still endeared to both live Shrek and Donkey for the same reasons they fell in love with the movie Shrek (Mike Myers) and Donkey (Eddie Murphy), yet neither are exact replicas of the Myers and Murphy versions. Petersen and Mingo manage to fill our hearts with even more affection and affinity for our heroes (in fact, my niece thoroughly enjoyed the live version of Donkey, more so than the film version).

With a colorful and imaginative cast of characters and scenery, the production has evolved and developed since its opening one year ago (to mixed reviews). It has been described as a story with "moments that feel like a pop-up storybook." Indeed, "Shrek the Musical" is a pop-up story book come to life that delights and entertains both the young and young at heart.

As a side note, parents, if you're interested in introducing your child/ren to theatre, "Shrek the Musical" is a wonderful way to do so. It got my niece excited to look into auditions for her local theatre! "Shrek the Musical" runs at the Pantages Theatre in the heart of Hollywood now through July 31. Tickets range in price from $25-$100. For more information, visit or the show's web site.

Dragon performs "Forever" to Donkey from "Shrek the Musical" National Tour


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