Thanks to a pixilated prologue briefly depicting Shrek the seven-year-old ogre’s banishment to the swamp and Far, Far Away Princess Fiona’s exile to a remote castle guarded by a fire-breathing Dragon, fans of the 2001 Academy Award®-winning animated film Shrek and Broadway Series South and the North Carolina Theatre patrons who have never seen the DreamWorks movie can enjoy Shrek the Musical equally, with its whimsical musical staging by NETworks Presentations, LLC national tour director Stephen Sposito and choreographer Chris Bailey, who lovingly recreate the monkey business and lively dance routines that original directors Jason Moore and Rob Ashford and choreographer Josh Prince employed to make Shrek the Musical a real knee-slapper.
Indeed, the current tour of this fractured fairy tale is top drawer all the way, with invigorating instrumental accompaniment and a young and talented cast stepping lively on James Kronzer’s vivid recreation of original scenic and costume designer Tim Hatley’s colorful storybook sets.
Costume coordinator Austin K. Sanderson also deserves kudos for reproducing the eye-catching outfits that earned 2009 Tony Award for Best Costume Design of a Musical for original costumes designed by Tim Hatley.
Perry Sook is delightful as the big, green, smelly, antisocial, swamp-dwelling ogre Shrek. After his swamp is invaded by misfit fairy-tale characters from Duloc, banished by the villainous Lord Farquaad (played with brio by Christian Marriner), rude, crude and socially unacceptable Shrek becomes a reluctant hero as he and his smart-aleck equine sidekick Donkey (Jeremy Gaston) sally forth to rescue a damsel-in-distress — Princess Fiona (Whitney Winfield) — from a lonely castle tower, protected by an ill-tempered Dragon (Courtney Daniels).
Winfield is cute as Fiona, a pretty maiden with a big ugly secret (she thinks) who proves more than a match for Shrek; and Gaston provides considerable comic relief as Donkey. But it is Marriner — cavorting about the stage on his knees — who steals the show as the nasty, brutish, and short Lord Farquaad, who schemes to become King of Far, Far Away by marrying Princess Fiona.
Christian Marriner hams it up hilariously as the fickle Lord, and his acerbic adlibs are icing on a very tasty musical-comedy cake. Triangle ticket buyers will find this touring version of Shrek the Musical to be a movable feast of fun!
SECOND OPINION: Nov. 28th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh review by Larissa Mount: http://raleigh.broadwayworld.com/article/BWW-Reviews-SHREK-THE-MUSICAL-Brings-Magic-to-Raleigh-20121128; and Nov. 28th Raleigh, NC WRAL-TV interview with Christian Marriner, conducted by Kelcey Carlson: http://www.wral.com/entertainment/video/11820546/#/vid11820546. (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Nov. 26th Triangle Theater Review review by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2012/11/the-triangle-gets-a-make-ogre-shrek-the-musical-plays-raleigh-memorial-auditorium-nov-27-dec-2/.)
Broadway Series South and the North Carolina Theatre present SHREK THE MUSICAL at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1 and 2 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $30.10-$89.35 (including fees).
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/1250914.
SHOW: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/event/shrek-835 and http://nctheatre.com/shows/shrek.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.shrekthemusicalontour.com/video-gallery.
Broadway Series South: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/broadway-series-south (2012-13 season: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/event/2012-13-broadway-series-south-season-3171).
North Carolina Theatre: http://nctheatre.com/ (2013 season: http://www.nctheatre.com/2013-shows).
NCT BLOG: http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
The 1990 Illustrated Book (Shrek!): http://us.macmillan.com/shrek (Macmillan) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrek! (Wikipedia).
William Steig: http://us.macmillan.com/author/williamsteig (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Steig (Wikipedia).
The 2001 Animated Film: http://www.shrek.com/ (official web page) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrek_(film_series) (Wikipedia).
The Musical: http://www.shrekthemusical.com/ (official web page), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrek_the_Musical (Wikipedia), and http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?ID=477421 (Internet Broadway Database).
The Tour: http://www.shrekthemusicalontour.com/ (official website) and https://www.facebook.com/shrekthemusicalonbroadway (Facebook).
DreamWorks Theatricals: http://www.dreamworksanimation.com/theatricals/ (official website).
NETworks Presentations, LLC: http://www.networksontour.com/ (official website).
Perry Sook: http://www.perrysook.com/ (official website).
Jeremy Gaston: http://www.shrekthemusicalontour.com/cast/andre-jordan.html (tour bio).
Whitney Winfield: http://www.whitneywinfieldonline.com/ (official website).
Christian Marriner: http://christianmarriner.com/ (official website).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.