This week Shrek the Musical graced the Salt Lake Valley and of course I had to attend. Hopefully this can semi-count as a Friday Flix for you. Granted, I knew this wouldn’t be as epic as Wicked (it’s come here twice and I went both times), but having seen some YouTube promos, it looked to be a good time.
The costumes were fantastic. Pinocchio looked like a wooden boy and whenever he told a lie his nose did actually grow! The gingerbread man worked out fairly well. Even Dragon got in there via large scale puppet action. The movie is still better than the musical, but I look at the musical as its own unique rendition of the story (which it is) and it’s an experience I recommend.
Lord Farquaad. He’s supposed to be the villain, but honestly he steals the show. The actor, Christian Marinner, usually 6 feet-ish tall, does the majority of the production on his knees. This includes several dance numbers and an awkward but hilarious attempt at getting his fake legs to kneel. (Trust me, you’ll get stitches in your sides when you see it). The whole musical could have been solely about him and it would have worked. In fact, I’m betting an off-broadway musical with him would get some serious accolades. Even if you’re not necessarily the biggest fan of the Shrek story, you’d probably still walk away satisfied with Christian’s performance alone.
Donkey. One of my favorite movie characters was Donkey and the musical version didn’t disappoint. Picture Ralphy’s bunny outfit from a Christmas story, now morph that into a donkey costume and you’ve already got several parts hilarious. Plus the actor (I believe Jeremy Gaston) encompasses the spirit of Donkey perfectly. I was a little wary, wondering if anyone could top Eddie Murphy’s performance. Jeremy brings his own unique acting to the character, making Donkey his own and yet still the Donkey we know and love.
Fiona. I think the actress (Whitney Winfield) does an even better job than original Cameron Diaz. She’ll remind you a little bit of Disney’s Rapunzel, a shut-in who’s been shut in for way too long. But that means her social inhibitions are almost zero and it makes for extra funny. You really believe she could love someone like Shrek.
Music. I get that it’s supposed to be a musical but sometimes it feels like they crammed songs in for the sake of cramming songs in. Some you wish you could press the fast forward button on, or at least check out what’s happening on Facebook. Fortunately there are enough laughs between songs any annoyance you have will soon be chased away.
Shrek. Yep, unfortunately I was bothered by Shrek the whole time. I think it was mostly his awkward, not-quite Scottish accent. Often the performance felt stilted. I was grateful Donkey was there to bring things back up. I don’t mean to be so harsh, but good gracious, it’s the lead role! Shouldn’t the performance of Shrek be the greatest of the whole cast? I got the feeling he was maybe cast for his theater talent and not necessarily his Shrek-playing talent (if that makes sense). Maybe the costume and make-up were awkward. I don’t know. I just yawned every time he was on stage. But at least the make-up was good.
Despite Shrek being the weak link, it’s still a worthwhile show. I wish it was going to be in town more than a week, but I’m glad I got to see it. It’s a very family friendly show, I thought no more offensive than the movie (if you need a base for judgement). And it’s a lot of fun. If it’s coming to a town near you, I recommend picking up some tickets and getting out to see it. Although it’s based on the same story as the movie, there are still some unexpected plot twists that will certainly make you grin.
Have you seen Shrek the Musical? What did you think? Do you often attend musicals? What’s your favorite musical of all time? Have you ever seen a musical in New York? Are there any musicals you think are better than the movie? Let me know in the comments below!