I went into Shrek The Musical with a number of doubts; could the stage version match the visuals, heart and humor of the movie? Would Shrek look legitimate or like a cheap Halloween costume? Would characters having to sing so many songs ruin it? My concerns were all answered, and ’I’m a Believer’ that Shrek The Musical, at Victoria Theatre through Jan. 27, is equivalent to the move in entertainment value.
For me, the key to Shrek is its love story and message of self respect, even if you are a little different. Being an ogre, Shrek feels abandoned by the world, but finds acceptance in the heart of a Princess. Their fairytale romance is perfectly portrayed in Shrek The Musical and is the base of a very strong show.
Perry Sook fills the large shoes of the title role, and hits every note whether using his voice or another bodily sound. When sent to rescue the Princess the last thing he ever expected was to develop feelings for her, but a woman with such burping ability is hard to resist. The damsel in distress, Fiona, is mastered by Whitney Winfield. Whose royal elegance is matched with a degree of ogre-like raunchiness.
The second act scene when a case of miscommunication prevents Shrek from professing his feelings is the emotional climax and will pull at your heart strings. It’s when I became most emotionally invested in the show and considered Oscar, or in this case Tony worthy.
The scenery, from Shrek’s swamp to the King’s castle was all adequate. Set changes were seamless, and placed you directly inside the dragon’s lair. Furthermore, some exceptional puppetry was done to bring the cookie and the dragon to life. There were multiple moments throughout the show that left me wondering, ‘how’d they do that?’
As Lord Farquaad, Christian Marriner measures up to the role and surprisingly did not fall short of expectations. He’s a source of comic relief, competing with Jeremy Gaston as the Donkey for the source of the most laughs. Another scene stealer is Tony Johnson as Pinocchio who stands out amongst the ‘freak’ characters. His talents prove to be real, even if the rest of his body isn’t.
There are laughs from beginning to end for all ages, including a reference to Puss In Boots and another hit Disney film/stage musical that attentive eyes will see.
Ironically, my only disappointment is with the music. There’s some great songs in the movie, which led me to purchase the soundtrack, and those in the musical aren’t on the same level. My favorite song in the film is ‘Hallelujah’ and there’s no hint of it in the show. The only music carried over is ‘I’m A Believer’ which is very spiritedly performed at the conclusion. The performance almost mirrors the movie and is a sight to behold.
A fairytale brought to life, Shrek The Musical should by seen by fans of the movie and anyone who enjoys a good love story. It’s message is also one that we all can learn from. Shrek will be at the Victoria Theatre through January 27. For ticket information or to reserve your seat go to www.ticketcenterstage.com.