Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shrek the Musical - Humor for the whole family

Last night, I saw Shrek the Musical at the Cadillac Palace Theatre - and I loved it! I've seen the movie of course, and as an adult who enjoyed it, I'd anticipated mostly adults to be in the audience. That was not the case - it was mostly families, and the show operated on different levels to please both its adult and child audiences. Just as in the movie, lots of lines and jokes could be interpreted different ways, depending on who was doing the interpreting. So there was plenty of humor for both kids and adults.

The opening scene was pretty somber - a 7-year old Shrek being pushed out into the world by his seemingly cold and uncaring parents. I'm not quite sure how the kids in the audience interpreted this, but it creates instant sympathy for an unlikely main character. Things turn pretty cheery early on though, when the fairy tale critters are banished from the kingdom of Duloc and put on a high energy, hilarious number.

The musical stays pretty true to the plot of the movie, and one of my favorite scenes from the movie – the torture of the Gingerbread man - was definitely done to my satisfaction.

The main characters of Shrek and Fiona were pretty much as I expected. Sometimes it was a bit disconcerting to hear such a beautiful voice coming from Shrek – the songs he sang didn’t always match the persona. However, the character of Donkey completely stole the show. Donkey is played by Alan Mingo, Jr., who played Tom Collins in Broadway’s Rent. His mannerisms, movements and delivery added up to comic perfection, and he lit up every scene he was in.

The songs were overall quite catchy and some of the lyrics had me really laughing – like the Big Bad Wolf, wearing a granny nightgown, singing about how they “tore my cotton granny dress, and called me a hot tranny mess.” At the end of the show, there's a number where the fairy tale characters celebrate their freakiness in a number called "Freak Flag," singing "Let your freak flag fly" and culminating with Pinocchio declaring "I'm wood, I'm good, get used to it!" Some of these lyrics definitely went over the heads of the kids in the audience, but that’s what made it so much fun for adults.

Overall, it’s one of those enjoyable performances that will please all members of your family. It’s recommended for ages 5 and up, which I think seems about right. It’s playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre now through September 5, and you can learn more on the official web site at

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