Beck Center For The Arts production of ‘Shrek the Musical’ is pure magic
For those adults who are accompanying your youngsters to see the Beck Center for the Arts production of Shrek The Musical you are in for a wonderful surprise. What makes the Beck Center production unique and magical is the wonderful cast. All of the principles are in fine voice as well as the ensemble made up of fairyland creatures. Children will love it for the belching and farting song and adults will love it for the witty one liners that are sprinkled about.
The musical is based on the 2001 Dream Works Animation film Shrek and its follow-up sequels with music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire.
The show begins with adult Shrek telling how he was kicked out of his home on his seventh birthday with his parents informing him that the last thing he will see while alive is an angry mob. Eventually, Shrek builds a home for himself in a smelly swamp that insures his privacy. There he lives in blissful bachelor solitude.
Meanwhile, Fiona takes the stage and renames the show The Fiona Story telling how at age seven she was put in a tall tower surrounded by hot lava and guarded by a ferocious dragon to await the kiss of her one true love to break a curse.
Shrek continues by telling how his idyllic life is changed when a group of refugee fairyland folk descend on his property. They have been kicked out of the city, Duloc, by Lord Farquaad who has dreams of being king of a perfect city devoid of “freaks.” The fairyland creatures keep badgering Shrek to confront Farquaad and get their homes back. Realizing that he will have no peace until he does so agrees and sets off.
Shrek is soon lost when he comes across Donkey who promises to lead him to the city. In spite of being polar opposites the two manage to bond and become friends. They arrive at the city and meet with Farquaad who promises Shrek the deed to his swamp if he will rescue Princess Fiona. Reluctant, but seeing no other way out, Shrek agrees.
Arriving at the Fiona’s place of imprisonment, Shrek begins scaling the tower wall while Donkey keeps the dragon at bay while romancing her. Fiona in the meantime has dreams of how she wants to be rescued none of which Shrek wants to deal with. He finally simply drags her along back to ground level.
As the trio make their way back to Duloc Princess Fiona insists they stop for the night. Her secret curse is that at nightfall she turns into an ogre just like Shrek but is unwilling to reveal this. In the morning she changes back to human form.
As they travel, the two realize that they have much in common as far as childhoods and the song “I Think I’ve Got You Beat” turns into a belching and farting contest. They soon grow very fond of each other but a misunderstanding between her and Shrek threaten their relationship. When Lord Farquaad travels out to meet them Fiona is quick to insist on a wedding that day before nightfall (and her change to an ogre). Wedding plans are made and finalized as Shrek looks hopelessly on.
Gilgamesh Taggett is perfect as Shrek in looks, costume and demeanor. He has a fantastic singing voice as well and his clipped English accent is perfect for the part. Remell Bowens as Donkey is another perfect match with his wise cracking one liners and amazing multi octave singing voice. Natalie Steen does a fine turn as Fiona with yet another great singing voice added to the production. For the Sunday performance Sunayna Smith performed and sang the part of the dragon and did an outstanding job of it. Brian Altman plays the entire role of Farquaad on his knees with short leg prosthetic that he makes dance. He is of fine voice as well.
As for the ensemble of fairyland creatures they are absolutely great singing and cavorting about with wild abandon. The ensemble consists of: Antonio DeJusus as Pinocchio, Brianna DeRosa as Wicked Witch, Ross Fagan as cross dressing Big Bad Wolf, Taylor Fox as The Sugar Plum Fairy and The Gingerbread Man, Tony Heffner, Justin Lee and Sam Sommer as The Three Little Pigs, Mason Henning as The Mad hatter, Zack Wojno, Makayla McIntosh and Owen Hill as Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear, John Kost as White Rabbit, Adrianne Krauss as Peter Pan, Sunayna Smith as Fairy God Mother/Mama Ogre, Logan Sword as Thelonius/Papa Ogre/Bishop and Meredith Aleigha Wells as The Ugly Duckling who does some amazing dance moves while seated in a wheel chair.
The simple set design relies heavily on video projection designed by Brittany Merenda and Carlton Guc’s sound design came through loud and clear. The costume design by Betty Pitcher are absolutely astounding in their detail adding much to making the show believable. She is aided in large part by Make-up and Prosthetic Designer PJ Toomey.
If your looking for a change from holiday theater fare that the entire family will love, this is a must see show. It literally has something for everyone with its great cast, awesome costuming, timely message of inclusion and lively songs. It’s a dream come true for the holiday season.
Shrek The Musical runs through January 5, 2020 at The Beck Center For The Arts, 17801 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood, Ohio. For tickets and information visit www.beckcenter.org or call (216) 521-2540.