Shrek, The Musical
& Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire - Music by Jeanine Tesori
by Brett Nichols - Music Director Sam Clark
Reviewed by Wayne Erreca (3-8-15)
I love Cinderella stories that come out of obscurity rising to grand heights. On October 17, 1990, when Author and Illustrator William Steig proudly had his new book Shrek published, little did he know what significance that special moment in his life would bring his way. One very important man in the film industry in 1991 was so inspired by its illustrations and charming story he took measures to secure its book rights. The creative giant was Steven Spielberg. His Dreamworks production company purchased book rights in 1995 and released it to numerous silver screens in 2001. This was just the beginning of this amazing story, which garnished an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, with three additional film sequels following faithfully behind. William Steig was 82 years old upon publishing his sensational illustrated book Shrek.
Shortly, thereafter, in 2002, Lyricist David Lindsay-Abaire and Director Jason Moore began laying down stepping stones for a musical rendition of Shrek, and two years later, Composer Jeanine Tesori jumped in to provide the music. It premiered at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, Washington on September 10, 2008. After many important adjustments, it opened at The Broadway Theatre in New York on December 14th of that same year.
Old Town Playhouse Director Brett Nichols has assembled a fantastic ensemble of talented actors, designers, stage assistants, and staff members who have invested meticulous details in set designs, properties, and marvelously stunning costumes. Throughout this uplifting and spirited musical is the dazzling choreography of Kristina Nichols that pleases the eye, and propels its lively characters effortlessly, from scene to scene. Music Director Sam Clark and her orchestra are terrific, keeping everyone in perfect step, and highlighting every subtle and enjoyable emotion. Costume Designer Kathy Verstraete and her diligent team created brilliant apparel for each and every character. The production values are superb, along with Kerr Anderson’s set design, and Bill Fishburn’s light design. There are many others who filled in the many necessary creative details that make this musical production a great success.
Brian Dungjen as Shrek has the swagger, innocence, and splendid singing voice to charm any audience into believing green monstrous ogres are real. Kristina Nichols as Fiona is bouncy, energetically bubbling and light-footedly prancing, here and there, and singing her heart out, even to exploding birds chirping in the crest of a tree. Lars Kelto as Donkey flamboyantly skips circles around his new buddy Shrek schmoozing him in songs of “Don’t Let Me Go” and during their journey "Travel Song". Shrek and Donkey's destination leads them to Lord Farquaad's grey stoned castle, outrageously and comically played by Brian Johnson, who's tour de force performance is a must see!
Old Town Playhouse has staged many lively and brilliant musical productions over the years, but this particular gem has a little something special that will carry you smiling into your following days. I wonder if William Steig realized what he had created at such a late hour in his life. And what did Steven Spielberg see in that newly published illustrated children’s book that gave him pause for potential greatness? You be the judge and see for yourself within this remarkably entertaining musical jewel. It’s all in there for you to see in the “Big Bright Beautiful World” of Shrek!