Theatre Mirror Reviews "Shrek"
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entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone

"Shrek"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

CENTER> "SHREK< THE MUSICAL"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone North Shore Music Theatre's 60th season's second show is "Shrek, The Musical" based on the Oscar winning Dream Works animation movie of the same name from 2001. It has music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and the original source material is from William Steig's 1990 book, Shrek. The story begins when Shrek tells the audience his parents sent him out of the house at the age of 7 and into the world to make a living. They warn him because of his looks, everyone will hate him and he will come to a bad end. The audience joins Shrek and his loyal steed, Donkey on their quest to rescue the beautiful if slightly temperamental Princess Fiona from her tower which is guarded by a love sick fire-breathing dragon. Add the diminutive Lord Faquaad, who is in love with Fiona, a gang of fairytale misfits, and a gingerbread cookie with attitude to the list of wild and crazy characters that Shrek and the audience meet along the way. Shrek is an outsider who goes on a journey to discover where he belongs in the world. This is something everyone can relate to and an important lesson to learn to accept everybody no matter how they look. Add marvelous singing and dancing by these talented performers with excellent direction by Michael Heitzman, musical direction by Michael Gacetta and creative and terrific choreography by Mara Greer. This sensational high energy musical is rewarded with a spontaneous standing ovation at the curtain call as the whole audience sings "I'm a Believer" with Shrek and his cast mates.

Michael picks the best performers for these roles and infuses them with keen insight into the comic and dramatic moments that enthrall the crowd.The 19 new songs and the music soars under Michael's direction with his magnificent twelve piece orchestra. The score has references to "Gypsy", "Dreamgirls", "Wicked" and "Les Miserables" to name a few.  Mara's choreography is breath taking especially the tap dance, the twist, the Charleston and some Motown dances that will make you want to leap up and join the performers. She has them performing the dance steps in perfect unison with some of the best choreography around. The fantastic sets are by 21 year old Nate Bertone, the youngest scenic designer ever at NSMT while the gorgeous, colorful costumes are by Paula Peasley-Ninestein. Leading this talented cast is Lukas Poost as Shrek. He is dynamic in this role, winning over the audience with his sympathetic portrayal. Lukas' songs include "Big Bright Beautiful World", when he sings about being alone in the swamp, "When Words Fail" when he tries to explain his feelings to Fiona, "Build a Wall", when he is angry with everyone around him and "Beautiful Ain't Always Pretty" when he falls in love at last. His duet with Fiona is "I Think I Got You Beat" which is reminscient of "Anything You Can Do" where they compete with each other in an hilarious farting and burping contest. Lukas closes the show with "I'm a Believer" with the whole cast doing an energetic dance to it and his powerhouse voice stops the show with its power. 8 year old Harrison Sturgeon plays young Shrek and displays his voice in the closing number.

  Dwayne Clark is a hoot as the Donkey. He steals almost every scene he's in with his wild and crazy antics. He is a marvelous actor and reminds you of a young Eddie Murphy. Dwayne's superb voice is heard in his many songs. They include "Don't Let Me Go" when he first meets Shrek, "Travel Song" where he explains he is a GPS in fur, "Forever" when he discovers the dragon is holding the princesses captive and is also when the Dragon falls in love with him, "Who I'd Be","Make a Move" when he encourages Shrek to pursue Fiona and "This Is Our Story" which  brings him a happy ending. Lauren Wiley, a gorgeous redhead is fantastic as the spunky Fiona. This character isn't afraid of anyone and speaks her mind freely. Her vocals and acting are terrific, too. Her lovely voice is heard in "I Know It's Today" where she sing abut how she'll be rescued by her prince( sung in perfect three part harmony with the other Fiona's, Haven Pereira as Young Fiona and Miranda Gelch as Teen Fiona )"This Is How a Dream Comes True", "Who I'd Be" where she, Shrek and the Donkey sing of secrets they are hiding, "Morning Person", "I Think I Got you Beat", the farting song and "This Is Our Story" where they get together at last. "I Know It's Today" is very poignant as she hopes to find a prince to save her from her isolation. One of her best numbers is "Morning Person" which opens Act 2 with a show stopping tap dance that is phenomenal and breathtaking.

Benjamin Howes plays the part of Lord Faquaad splendidly. He is the villain of the show as he tries to get Fiona for his own and wants Shrek killed so he can obtain Fiona. Benjamin shines as this Snidley Whiplash type of character. He plays the part on his knees with fake legs. His terrific voice soars in his two big song and dance numbers ""What's Up Duloc?" and "The Ballad of Faquaad." His dancing has to be seen to be believed. Benjamin is hilarious in this role and steals many a scene with his expert comical timing. Faquaad's even smaller father Grumpy of Snow White fame is well played by 8 year old Jake Ryan Flynn who played Tiny Tim in last year's "Christmas Carol" at NSMT. The comical dragon is marvelously played by Jacqueline Arnold. She displays her powerful voice in "Forever" with Dwayne and her two back up singers. The dragon falls madly in love with the Donkey. Her strong belting voice wins over the audience and she displays it as Shrek's mother at the start of the show.The fairytale characters are lead by Pinocchio played splendidly by Will Porter. He is hilarious as the character's nose grows larger every time he tells a lie. Will speaks in a high pitched voice and leads the chorus in ""Story of My Life", "The Goodbye Song" and "The Freak Flag" which is a Motown number with impressive dancing in it. Katy Geraghty is a hoot as Gingy, the gingerbread cookie who is tortured by Farquuad so he can find his princess and become king. One of the cookie's funniest lines is "Eat Me!" Mara's real life husband Michael Greer is not only the dance captain but also plays the cross dressing wolf from Little Red Riding Hood fame. There are many twists and turns to the show leading to its eventual heart warming ending. So for a phenomenal musical extravaganza for audiences of all ages, be sure to catch "Shrek, the Musical" at NSMT before time runs out. Owner and producer Bill Hanney spares no expense in bringing this sensational show to Beverly during NSMT's 60th Anniversary season!

SHREK, THE MUSICAL (7 to 19 July)
North Shore Music Theatre, 62 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA
1(978)232-7200 or www.nsmt.org

"Shrek: The Musical" (7 - 19 July)
NORTH SHORE MUSIC THEATRE
@ 62 Dunham Road, BEVERLY MA
1(978)232-7200

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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