Monday, June 09, 2014
Storybook Theatre: "Shrek The Musical"
"Shrek The Musical"
The Monday Morning "Before-Noon" Theatre Review:
Storybook Theatre's production of
"Shrek The Musical"
The photo above is just a slightly selfish walk down Memory Lane for me - I was in New York while the 12-month Broadway run of "Shrek" was still going strong. I ended up turning right and heading into the Ed Sullivan Theatre instead that day - so what good fortune to finally catch up with this charming crowd-pleaser last night here at home!
Storybook Theatre's presentation just confirms for me the depth of the talent we have on Calgary stages at any given time. Child or adult, the audience last night was robust in their approval of the great job all the actors and creatives did with this theatrical homage to the Mike Myers films that became instant classics from the first one on.
First off, kudos to costume and stage design, which helped maintain the illusion of animation with live actors - aided by some background animation of sorts with stars and the moon. As well as a brief nod to a variety of minor characters including a cow jumping over the moon, a dish running away with a spoon, a tease of Disney's "Lion King" - and even Puss In Boots...
Director Mark Bellamy has not only a vast story to tell in this play, but also a large cast of active actors to maneuver onstage, which he make appear as smooth as a princess's complexion - no surprise given his extensive credentials. He has some able assistance in that cast traffic challenge from choreography Angela Woodard, another one here with a wealth of experience to bring to her role.
Vocally, the large cast works extremely well in the ensemble pieces, and in their solo efforts. As for the stars, well - this production as I mentioned at the start benefits from some deeply talented singers.
Jeremy Walker as Shrek raises the roof several times, on his own and with Fiona (Jamie Robinson) in one particular number that is unlike any other musical duet that I'm aware of - a love song with belching and flatulence? A huge hit with the kids, and those of us that have yet to actually grow up...
Donkey (Tenaj Williams) gets to rip up the stage as well, and again has a unique duet - with a dragon.
What can you say? This is like the films, a blend of a large number of fairy tale characters, and in the case of the play there are also fun references/pokes at other famous Broadway musicals.
Short-changed only by the nature of his character, but hardly in his performance, Christopher Willott has the challenge of singing and dancing while on his knees as Lord Farquaad (I'm not revealing any secret telling you this), and evokes a load of laughs in that effort.
And then there are the puppeteers, bringing life to the aforementioned dragon, and the foul-mouthed Gingy. There's the younger Shreks and Fionas, as well as Pinocchio and the rest of the Fairytale Creatures - if you've seen the movies, you'll recognize the characters in this musical for sure.
But time is running out - Shrek The Musical ends June 14th, so check out Storybook Theatre for ticket info - their site indicates many of the performances are already sold out, so I'd advise you to make haste...
Incidentally, the playbill indicates that director Mark Bellamy's next project is "Avenue Q" for Stage West Calgary, which is where I caught up with him at the time for "The 39 Steps". I've also chatted before with Storybook Theatre's Artistic Director JP Thibodeau there (he is currently serving additionally as Assistant Director/Set & Light Designer for this production of "Shrek"), so you can catch up with those interviews below.
Another walk down Memory Lane...