Never would have I imagined that farting and burping could be so charming or so funny in bringing an Ogre named Shrek and a Princess named Fiona together in song. As they get to know each other a bit better by trying to best each other in “I Think I Got You Beat” it is a moment of pure hilarity as performed by Brian d’Arcy James and Sutton Foster. Just one of the inspired and original moments of the delightful and charming musical that is making kids of all ages wake up and smell the sunflowers and stop judging anyone by what they look like. I loved it!
Shrek the musical is a riotous romp through the Kingdom of Duloc where Pinocchio, Peter Pan, the three pigs, bears and blind mice and many other characters of famous fairy tales have been banished by Lord Farquaad to Shrek’s swamp because they are “freaky”.
A witty and wonderfully green world has been created where adults can rediscover and rekindle their inner child and where kids can discover the magic that live musical theatre can bring. So bring everyone and enjoy the fantastic fantasy that has been created by the incredibly gorgeous and sumptuous sets and costumes by Tim Hatley, the very funny book and especially clever, laugh out loud, up to date lyrics that hit home and deep in the heart about being “freaky” of David Lindsay-Abaire and the tuneful pop rock/ traditional Broadway music of Jeanine Tesori. While I don’t think you’ll be able to hum any song on the way home they all work beautifully in the show.
Sutton Foster is pure heaven as Fiona, a spunky Princess waiting for what seems to be forever for her knight in shining armor to rescue and marry her. Whether she is singing gloriously or tapping with a chorus of rats, “Morning Person” (clever choreography by Josh Prince) or being just plain down to earth funny and adorable or dealing with the “curse” cast upon her she wins everyone’s heart – including that of Shrek. Brian d’Arcy James is spectacular as the green ogre who just wants to be left alone as he is so ugly. He really brings compassion to this part and sings with a powerful and commanding voice, especially in his “Who I’d Be”. He becomes adorable right before our eyes. As his sidekick, Donkey, Daniel Breaker, is the sassiest ass on Broadway. Absolutely getting all his laughs, sometimes with just a look and singing and hoofing with the best of them.
But the performance that is most impressive is that of Christopher Sieber as the evil Lord Farquaad – with his Prince Valiant hairdo and performing on his knees as the dwarfish ruler in need of a wife to be King – he stops the show with “What’s Up, Duloc?” milking it for all its worth and summoning the audience to applaud even louder and longer. It’s a brilliant performance.
Jason Moore has directed with a knowing wink and brought out the best of everyone in the large cast. If at times Shrek the musical becomes a bit exaggerated for all the kids in attendance all is forgiven for this big, bright, beautiful world that has been created for the joy of everyone.
Parents take note: The one common factor for Shrek, Fiona and Farquaad is that they had terrible parents – who didn’t understand them and thought too little of their children. If there is any lesson to be learned from this terrific, inspiring and uplifting show, it’s to nurture and love your kids – whatever they look like, whatever they are.