(Photo By Joan Marcus)
SHREK THE MUSICAL arrived at the Arsht Center last night, and should certainly be a fine outing for the kids and those who are kids at heart.
SHREK is not as witty as it could be and not at tuneful as it should be. It does have its moments, especially when Lord Farquaad as played by Merritt David Janes is delighting us with his performance.
The book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire do not leave us with any truly memorable material, but they do serve the product at hand. The music by Jeanine Tesori seems well intentioned, and is likely fine for the younger ones, but more mature theatergoers will not find the music inspired. I hate to be the holiday ogre, but in general, SHREK THE MUSICAL disappoints.
The audience at the Arsht last night received the musical politely, however, it was a tad embarrassing the one or two times when audience applause was seemingly expected; and when it was not delivered, we were left with dreaded deadness on stage and throughout the theater.
We must extend bravos to performer Kelly Teal Goyette, and the costumers, puppeteers, special effects wizards, and all involved who made the Dragon appearances delightful SHREK moments. Likewise, the aforementioned Merritt David Janes’ Lord Farquaad gets a hearty round of applause to all involved in achieving Mr. Janes’ performance – it is an absolute hoot.
Lukas Poost as Shrek and Liz Shivener as Princess Fiona provide most of the charm in SHREK. Ms. Shivener has a down to earth elegance as Fiona and a lovely singing voice to match. Mr. Poost is left quite short with good material as SHREK. However, he manages to make us care about him and he has a light and sweet singing style that we do not hear often enough.
Andre Jordan as the donkey has some fun moments and yet, Mr. Jordan’s performance is simply not special enough for a character who can easily steal this show.
All the craftspeople involved with SHREK have done nicely with bringing the film to life. Stephen Sposito directed this tour based on the work of Jason Moore and Rob Ashford. It is rough to tell who is responsible for what; but SHREK moves along at a nice pace and it certainly is a fine holiday gift for children (there are far too few lines in the book meant to entertain the adults—lines the young ones will not ‘get’ ). As a children’s musical, SHREK achieves something vitally important, it is not too long and is quite easily understood.
For a musical, SHREK has the classic problems. It needs a better book and music and lyrics. One only wishes that this had been achieved. Because it wasn’t I must tell you that, regarding SHREK THE MUSICAL, I was not Ogre-Whelmed.
SHREK THE MUSICAL plays at the Arsht Center through December 11. www.arshtcenter.org.
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