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Gigantic proportions

Shrek: The Musical is noisy, bright, and beautiful

T.J. Dawson as Shrek and Company in Shrek: The Musical at Moonlight Stage - Image by Ken Jacques
T.J. Dawson as Shrek and Company in Shrek: The Musical at Moonlight Stage

Shrek: The Musical is part romance, part twisted fairy and all irreverent fun, and the large cast is currently strutting their stuff at the Moonlight Amphitheater.

Based on the Oscar-winning film from Dreamworks, the show brings the hilarious story of everyone’s favorite ogre to life on the stage. A faraway kingdom gets turned upside down when an unseemly ogre shows up to rescue a feisty princess. Throw in a donkey who won’t shut up, a villain with a short temper, a cookie with an attitude, and over a dozen other fairy tale misfits, and you’ve got a show of gigantic proportions, an unlikely hero, and a noisy score of 19 all-new songs, big laughs, great dancing, breathtaking scenery, and magical lighting.

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Directed and choreographed by David FM Vaughn, a Broadway feel is definitely present, and high tech effects abound. Unfortunately, the script by David Lindsay-Abaire is somewhat weak and predictable. Some of the songs, by Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori are memorable, such as “Big Bright Beautiful World,” “I Know It’s Today,” “Morning Person,” and “When Words Fail.” But some are truly forgettable and classify merely as noise.

This is not to say the musical numbers aren’t performed with precision and vocal excellence, because they are. Michelle London is a marvelous Fiona who can show both her feisty and sensitive sides with equal skill. T.J. Dawson is the epitome of Shrek, both visually and verbally. He wins the audience’s empathy easily and does a genuine job of acting. Cornelius Jones, Jr., as the Donkey, is a consummate performer who fills every minute he’s onstage with vibrant, pulsating life — and all in the costume of an ass.

Cornelius Jones, Jr. as Donkey in Shrek: The Musical at Moonlight Stage

It is Mark Ginsburg that steals the show as Lord Farquaad, with a comic delivery that always hits the mark, and a powerful voice that is captivating. The gimmick of making him look like a “little person” with puppet legs hanging from his waist and forcing him to perform on his knees is clever, but is it necessary?

The creative use of puppetry is exceptionally well done, albeit uncredited. Jean-Yves Tessier’s lighting is thoroughly effective and continually amazing.

This show is famous for its edgy jokes, pop culture references, and vulgar bodily function humor. Obviously designed to keep adults interested in what is chiefly a story for children, it seems to serve that purpose well.

And, of course, the message is well appreciated by most of us in these insensitive times: It doesn’t matter if you are different or just what you look like, everyone can be beautiful in their own way and should be valued for the unique qualities they possess. Or, as Pinocchio says in the show, “I am wood. I am good. Get used to it.”

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T.J. Dawson as Shrek and Company in Shrek: The Musical at Moonlight Stage - Image by Ken Jacques
T.J. Dawson as Shrek and Company in Shrek: The Musical at Moonlight Stage

Shrek: The Musical is part romance, part twisted fairy and all irreverent fun, and the large cast is currently strutting their stuff at the Moonlight Amphitheater.

Based on the Oscar-winning film from Dreamworks, the show brings the hilarious story of everyone’s favorite ogre to life on the stage. A faraway kingdom gets turned upside down when an unseemly ogre shows up to rescue a feisty princess. Throw in a donkey who won’t shut up, a villain with a short temper, a cookie with an attitude, and over a dozen other fairy tale misfits, and you’ve got a show of gigantic proportions, an unlikely hero, and a noisy score of 19 all-new songs, big laughs, great dancing, breathtaking scenery, and magical lighting.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Directed and choreographed by David FM Vaughn, a Broadway feel is definitely present, and high tech effects abound. Unfortunately, the script by David Lindsay-Abaire is somewhat weak and predictable. Some of the songs, by Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori are memorable, such as “Big Bright Beautiful World,” “I Know It’s Today,” “Morning Person,” and “When Words Fail.” But some are truly forgettable and classify merely as noise.

This is not to say the musical numbers aren’t performed with precision and vocal excellence, because they are. Michelle London is a marvelous Fiona who can show both her feisty and sensitive sides with equal skill. T.J. Dawson is the epitome of Shrek, both visually and verbally. He wins the audience’s empathy easily and does a genuine job of acting. Cornelius Jones, Jr., as the Donkey, is a consummate performer who fills every minute he’s onstage with vibrant, pulsating life — and all in the costume of an ass.

Cornelius Jones, Jr. as Donkey in Shrek: The Musical at Moonlight Stage

It is Mark Ginsburg that steals the show as Lord Farquaad, with a comic delivery that always hits the mark, and a powerful voice that is captivating. The gimmick of making him look like a “little person” with puppet legs hanging from his waist and forcing him to perform on his knees is clever, but is it necessary?

The creative use of puppetry is exceptionally well done, albeit uncredited. Jean-Yves Tessier’s lighting is thoroughly effective and continually amazing.

This show is famous for its edgy jokes, pop culture references, and vulgar bodily function humor. Obviously designed to keep adults interested in what is chiefly a story for children, it seems to serve that purpose well.

And, of course, the message is well appreciated by most of us in these insensitive times: It doesn’t matter if you are different or just what you look like, everyone can be beautiful in their own way and should be valued for the unique qualities they possess. Or, as Pinocchio says in the show, “I am wood. I am good. Get used to it.”

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