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‘Shrek the Musical’ – A Broadway Review

Broadway Goes Green

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating


Shrek the Musical, Broadway, New York,

Brian d'Arcy James, Daniel Breaker, and Sutton Foster

Photo by Joan Marcus

When Shrek the Musical was announced for Broadway, you could be forgiven for assuming everyone already knew everything about this show. After all, the movie was seen the world over, grossed hundred of millions of dollars, and sparked two sequels plus a holiday special on TV.

So there would be no surprises in the stage version, right? Wrong.

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What ‘Shrek the Musical’ is About

With Shrek the Musical, Broadway gives us the back story for characters we thought we knew, such as Shrek, Princess Fiona, and even evil Lord Farquaad. So the stage version gives you all you liked about the movie plus more about the characters while keeping the irreverent humor that spices up the plot.

In case you were the one person who hasn’t seen the movie, the story, in brief: To reclaim his swamp from squatting, displaced fairy creatures, the ogre Shrek must rescue the dragon-guarded Princess Fiona and deliver her to Lord Farquaad, who must marry a princess to become a king and make his land of Dulac into a real kingdom. Got that? Don’t worry. It’s not the plot but the characters and the comedy that made Shrek a hit on the screen and brought him to the stage.

What You’ll Like About ‘Shrek’

To be sure, you’ll like Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona. Audiences have been in love with Foster’s voice and dancing since Thoroughly Modern Millie, for which she won a Tony. The Drowsy Chaperone introduced us to her great comedic skills, but Shrek gives that talent free rein. From wryly delivered lines to fart jokes, Foster is flat out funny!

You’ll love Daniel Breaker as Donkey. Breaker, Tony-nominated for Passing Strange, had never seen the movie with Eddie Murphy’s hilarious voicing of the character. He brings his own comic interpretation, and Breaker does Donkey in winning style.

Christopher Sieber imbues Lord Farquaad with a delightful neediness underscored by inescapable selfishness. You not only like to see Farquaad get what’s coming to him, you enjoy the entire journey there. “What’s Up Dulac,” a big, first-act production number, with Sieber singing, dancing, and high-kicking, on his knees, is absolutely hilarious.

As Shrek, Brian d’Arcy James finds a way to make the ogre’s irascibility, basic goodness, and ultimate desire for connection come through the pounds and pounds of costume and green makeup.

And almost all of the fairy creatures are there, too: Pinocchio, the Gingerbread Man, the Big Bad Wolf, Three Blind Mice, and the rest.

Just as the movie had plenty for adults and children, the stage Shrek delivers with inside references. Look for drive-by fun-poking at Disney, Stephen Schwartz, Bob Fosse, and Woody Allen.

Just the Facts

Creative Team

Shrek the Musical is a production of DreamWorks Theatricals and Neal Street Productions Ltd., and was directed by Jason Moore, a Tony-nominee for Avenue Q. Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lindsay-Abaire wrote the book, and Shrek was choreographed by Josh Prince.

Run Time is 2 hours and 30 minutes with a 15-minute intermission. Here is information on show times and tickets

Things to Consider

Shrek the Musical is not Shrek the movie. There is more, the back stories mentioned above, and less, you simply cannot do everything on stage that you can do in an animated film. Producers wisely didn’t try to. Again, this is not the movie.

The musical features an entirely new score by Broadway veteran Jeanine Tesori, who again teams with Foster after having written the music for Thoroughly Modern Millie. The music, with its blues and gospel influences, takes a very different direction from the movie, which featured little original music, relying instead on new and old popular songs.

Kids will love Shrek, but before the curtain, parents might want to explain the Dragon, which is a combination of a really big puppet and eight singers who give the character its voice, sort of like a Greek chorus.

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