Wow. We had a blast! SHREK THE MUSICAL (normally I would italicize or quotation mark-ify, but come on! it’s about an ogre! it needs all caps) is great fun.
To recap, I did a little contest thingey on ye olde blog, giving away four tickets to opening night courtesy of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, who also gave me some tickets to use this evening. Avi and I went with friends and had a spectacular time, despite many cosmic forces conspiring against us (original friends stricken with the flu this morning, late departure necessitating emergency drive-thru sustenance, temporary technical issues at the start of the show, to name a few). I’m glad the cosmos got itself together because I really enjoyed myself.
Everyone (except Avi*) knows this story, and there are no major changes to the musical book than what you’re probably familiar with from the movie. I felt like the whole falling-in-love thing was shortened, but I often feel that way in movies and musicals alike and it’s been awhile since I’ve seen the movie anyway.
*Yes, you are correct – I did tell you that we would show Avi the movie before tonight. We ordered it from the library. It just came in today. Oops.
I guess I’m just trying to say that I didn’t miss anything from the story in that truncated-yet-longer way that musical adaptations often are.
But SHREK? It’s so funny! And I don’t mean the fart jokes! (Of which there are plenty.) It’s actually very musical theater-savvy, with references to “Gypsy”, “A Chorus Line”, “Wicked”, “Lion King” and “Les Miz” that we caught. Hilarious references that made me laugh out loud in an embarrassing way. Lots of layered humor – parfait, not onion – that appealed to the parent/child mix that dominated tonight’s audience.
And the music? Is fantastic. Seriously. I just downloaded the soundtrack. Not kidding. The first number by the fairy tale characters, “Story of My Life” is clever and catchy, done in one of my favorite styles. “The Ballad of Farquaad” also made me giggle when it started because it sounded like an old English mining song. Totally appropriate. Haven Burton (Fiona) and Carrie Compere (Dragon) both have very strong, very different, very competent voices. And actually, the way the dragon was handled was one of my favorite parts. Goes along with how nifty (and hysterical) David F. M. Vaughn was as Lord Farquaad, who you might remember is rather short in stature. And Eric Peterson (Shrek) was most especially lovely during “When Words Fail” in the second act.
It’s not perfect, but few productions are. The technical problem I alluded to above was taken care of lickety split at the start of the show; I highly doubt it will affect any of the remaining performances. Transitions will probably get tighter in the next few days as everyone eases into the routine of this particular theater. But I definitely enjoyed this far far FAR more than anything else I’ve taken Avi to see in the past year. His review was simple: “That was so awesome!”
Go see SHREK THE MUSICAL. It’s super fun, quite well crafted and honestly appealing to both you and your kids.
Just don’t forget your ogre ears.
Disclaimer: the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust provided me with four free tickets to use and four tickets to give away. But you knew that since I explained it up above. You can purchase tickets for SHREK THE MUSICAL here. The tour – part of PNC Broadway Across America – is in Pittsburgh from March 15-20, 2011.