The long awaited National Tour of “Shrek the Musical” has hit Chicago and with an explosive production that will keep you laughing from start to finish. This is two and a half hours of shear genius, created by the Dreamworkspeople based on their animated movies. With a clever book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and marvelous music by Jeanine Tesori, this spectacular entertainment special is not for the little ones. In fact, I would think, based on what I witnessed tonight , that 8 years old might be the youngest I would bring.
The story is a simple one- Shrek, an ogre is brought to the swamp by his parents when he is six years old so he can start his own life, far away from those who might hurt him, because of what he looks like. Princess Fiona, at the same age is taken by her parents to a tower hide-away as a spell has been placed on her that will not be broken until she finds her true love and marries him. Through some special circumstances and situations, they do find each other and the rest is history. Just remembr, this is based on the animated film and does vary in story so if your family is expecting to see the cartoon they love on the stage, be prepared- they will not. What they will see is a glorious live production that will amaze you in every way. Pay close attention and you will see snippets from many musicals that are Dreamworks little way of spoofing the. When the cartoon characters decide to fight for their lives, you will see a little “les Miz” and when the rats are leaving with the pied piper, you might find yourself thinking “A Chorus Line”- yes you will enjoy watching for some of these hints which just makes the whole experience that much more fun!
Shrek ( a wonderful performance by Eric Peterson) finds his swamp has been taken over by many cartoon characters ( Pinocchio,Peter Pan,The Ugly Duckling,Big Bad Wolf, and many more) who have been sent there by Lord Farquaad ( deftly handled by David F.M. Vaughn who plays this character, a dwarf, on his knees the majority of the show and one loses sight of this after his first song and dance number) who in order to become King must marry a princess.
Farquaad hires Shrek and his new buddy, Donkey ( the very funny Alan Mingo,Jr.) to do the job. Fiona ( the lovely Haven Burton) is guarded by a dragon ( a masterful piece of puppetry that will astound you. In fact, this production is filled with great special effects and costumes as well as superior work by its ensemble, who change characters and costumes constantly. The music is not memorable but is delightful in the show and the storyline has a moral that even the kids will find understandable. Beauty is only what we see and at that skin deep.Direction and choreography is the same that the Broadway production had, as usual with slight adjustments for the new stage area and the costumes and lighting of course follow suit. It is the cast that makes the difference on a road company tour and this one is splendid. Each actor is up to the task. I want to mention the “young Fiona” ( Madison Mullahey and young Shrek(Scarlett Diaz) who start us on the glorious journey that began when Director Sam Mendes contacted Dreamworks and suggested that theiranimated story become a stage production- they listened and here we are. I for one, thank you Sam Mendes!
Shrek, the Musical will continue at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through September 5th, with performances as follows:
Wednesdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 8p.m.
Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 1 and 6:30 p.m.
Tickets range from $25-$90 and are available at the theater box office ( 151 W. Randolph Street) or any of the other Broadway In Chicago box offices, by phone at 800-775-2000, at all Ticketmaster outlets and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com
To learn more about the production visit www.ShrekTheMusical.com