Trip to Broadway Play
Trip to Broadway Play: Shrek the Musical
While most of the country is “going green” to save the planet, Broadway has gone green with Shrek the Musical to help warm the hearts and tickle the funny bones of “enchanted” audiences. Shrek the Musical revisits the popular storyline and beloved characters of the hit movie Shrek that first charmed audiences in 2001. Shrek, Princess Fiona, Lord Farquaad, Donkey, and all of the fairytale creatures of the movie appear on stage; included are new comedic moments to make the production incredibly memorable. The play’s humor is matched by its wonderful scenery and costumes, as well as the fun, upbeat musical numbers.
Those who aren’t familiar with the movie are introduced to the faraway kingdom of Duloc, whose leader, Lord Farquaad, is exiling all fairytale creatures to create a “perfect place.” There’s only one problem with Farquaad’s master plan: a big, green, smelly, terrifying “onion” of a problem named Shrek, who “rules” the swamp inhabited by the exiled fairytale creatures. To save his home, Shrek must first rescue a beautiful and unusual princess with the help of his eccentric and hysterical sidekick, Donkey.
From the opening scene, audiences are hooked by the development of the title character, Shrek, whose childhood is revealed in the play (unlike in the film). The wonderful acting of Brian d’Arcy James helps bring the ogre’s lovable character to life, with the aid of creative make-up and costumes that ring true to the original story and stand out on stage. His comical dialogue and songs keep both adults and children laughing and hungry for more, while his touching ballad, "Who I'd Be," shows his compassionate and sweet “inner onion.” His performance is more than complimented by Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona. Foster’s powerful voice and acting has stunned audiences since her performance in Thoroughly Modern Millie, and continues to wow in Shrek with her quirky and charming character tap-dances with the “Blind Mice” as well as in her performance of the tune, "I Know It's Today."
Christopher Sieber’s performance as Lord Farquaad falls far from short as he commands the stage with his humorous tyranny of Duloc. As soon as he is introduced in the musical number “What’s Up Dulac,” we see his ability to “hit the high note” on his knees, as Sieber’s costume was designed with fake legs to create the illusion of a dwarf king. Farquaad’s childhood is also exposed for the first time and we watch the ruler fall from his high horse in song and dance. Last but not least, audiences are impressed by the singing and dancing of Daniel Breaker as Donkey, Shrek’s obnoxious and kind-hearted sidekick who also plays matchmaker for the ogre and energetic princess.
An interesting and original aspect of the play is its many references to other Broadway shows, such as A Chorus Line, Wicked, and The Lion King, which were incorporated into the dialogue and musical numbers. The funny and lighthearted musical numbers have important underlying messages that are heard by both children and adults; the song, “Freak Flag,” for example, sung by Pinocchio, the Gingerbread Man, and the fairytale creatures. This song promotes the general meaning of the play: to look past a person’s exterior and appreciate their personality instead of writing them off as a “freak.” The play make us realize that, as Shrek sings, it is indeed a “Big, Bright Beautiful World,” for those who follow their hearts and allow their “Freak Flags” to fly without inhibition. We watch the cast of Shrek the Musical fall in love, find friendship, and discover the importance of individuality through catchy tunes and great moves, something all audiences can connect with and applaud for. The students of the Pace University Honors College not only applauded Shrek the Musical but gave it a standing ovation.