Much to my surprise, I had a great time at Shrek The Musical. I went expecting a silly cartoon. That’s exactly what it is — but it’s a really well-done silly cartoon, perfect fare for an audience full of kids and parents. (At two-and-a-half hours long, I thought it might be too much for little ones, but many stuck it out on opening night.)
Of course, Shrek capitalizes on the popularity of several kid-oriented animated films about a goofy green ogre, a sort of comic, feel-good Frankenstein. (Nobody wants to give ugly a chance, it seems.) But Shrek offers plenty of humor for grown-up theater fans, poking fun at Wicked, The Lion King, Les Mis and more.
This high-class touring production features an eye-popping array of colorful costumes for an army of fairytale characters, constantly changing scenery (several backdrops have moving projections of clouds and weather) and crazy choreography (including a number with tap-dancing rats).
Even if you don’t care (or know) much about Shrek’s story, you’ll be entertained by Eric Petersen as the green hero. Wearing a ton of padding and makeup, he still manages to be funny and sympathetic — and, boy, can he belt out an ogre-sized song. He and Haven Burton, as the spunky, down-to-earth Princess Fiona, have a hilarious “can-you-top-this?” number about belching and farting. Alan Mingo Jr. is the sassy Donkey (a role originated by Eddie Murphy), with hooves for hands and more eye-rolling and smart talk than you’ll find on a school bus full of 10-year-olds. The show’s pint-sized villain, Lord Farquaad, featuring a Prince Valiant hairdo and spindly fake legs, is played by David F. M. Vaughan on his thinly disguised knees throughout, getting a ton of mileage out of the physical humor.
I’m still smiling, and I’m not the only one.
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