Well, I had the opportunity to go to Shrek The Musical last night at the 5th Avenue Theater. It is making its world debut here in Seattle, ironing out its kinks prior to opening on Broadway later this fall. I should start by saying that I had really no expectations for this show, as I had never heard of it, and I bought the ticket on a whim approximately 3 hours before the show began.
I did wonder: How would it be possible to turn this animated movie into a stage show? I know it's been done, and done successfully with shows like The Lion King and other Disney movies, but...this was different.
The adaptation was interesting, to say the least. The story really didn't differ from the movie at all; many of the the lines and jokes were verbatim. My seat in the theater was directly in the center, but it was the very last row, so I didn't see too many of the detailed facial features. The entire stage was set in shades of lime green, and the lighting was also very green. The marketing campaign of this show has been "Go Green", focusing on how to get to the theater in an eco-friendly manner, selling green ear pieces, etc.
The show opened, and through the first few songs I thought, "Uh oh. This is bad." The songs weren't catchy, the dances weren't very interesting and overall, I was not really enthused. Once the adult Shrek came on stage, it got better. The actor who played him (Brian D'arcy James) had a strong voice. The Scottish accent sometimes annoyed me, but even Mike Myers in the movie did that, and I really like the movies still. The actresses who played Fiona (there was a song with young Fiona, teen Fiona and adult Fiona) were all good - the adult Fiona (played by Sutton Foster) was awesome. The character Farquaad was played very well by Christopher Sieber, who is coincidentally from St Paul), but I really didn't like that he played the show on his knees. It was distracting to me, though I get why they did it. He did an impressive job of acting, singing and yes, dancing (!) on his knees, and for the most part, his costumes hid his legs. The guy who played Donkey (Chester Gregory) was fine, but his costume was fairly lame.
The ensemble cast for the creatures of Far Far Away varied from enchanting to annoying. I liked a few of the full company numbers, but for the most part, I felt like their sections fell flat. Too much focus on Pinocchio and some small elf (I have no idea who she was).
I forgot to mention the dragon! Extremely weird, didn't like those sections at all. Reminded me of the random spot in Grease where they sing "Beauty School Dropout" (I think that is what they sing then).
Overall, I give the show a grade of C-...it wasn't the worst show I've ever seen (that would be the Fargo-Moorhead production of Big), but it was by no means the best (that would be The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theater in London). For a major market large scale show, I guess I expect more. I know this run is meant to be their "dry run" before going to Broadway, but then so was the world premiere of The Lion King in Minneapolis, and that was phenomenal. So all in all, a bit disappointing.
Oh well, I really liked the theater, and will likely be making return visits there. The season this year has a few shows I'd like to see, and they have a special deal for subscribers under 30, so maybe I will see if Travis wants to subscribe.
So now I can say I have been to two global premieres, and Shrek the Musical is not the better of the two.
3 weeks ago