This is NOT your usual fairy tale. Sure, there’s a princess that needs to be rescued and a fire-breathing dragon guarding the tower. But since when does the ogre rescue the princess? So goes the story of “Shrek The Musical” presented by Dundalk Community Theatre. This entertaining fairy tale has a slew of the characters we know and love from books – three blind mice, the three little pigs, Pinocchio – oh, and a big bad wolf in drag and a smart aleck donkey.
The story goes something like this. Shrek (Dickie Mahoney), an ogre, is set into the world by his parents (Anne Acerno and Mark Lloyd) at the mere age of seven. He’s told life won’t be easy; people will always hate him based on his looks (‘watch out for men with pitchforks’). Some years later, he’s living contently in the swamp when a band of fairytale characters banished from the Kingdom of Duloc disrupt his peace and quiet. Shrek decides to go to Duloc to visit Lord Farquaad (Peter N. Crews) and regain his swamp – oh, and maybe help the fairytale characters out along the way.
…‘Shrek The Musical’ is a show you and the family don’t want to miss. There’s no place like the swamp for an unexpected love story.
When Shrek arrives in Duloc with the Donkey (Gary Dieter) he meets on his travels, he’s told he can have the deed to the swamp if he rescues the princess. Lord Farquaad intends to marry the princess so he can be king. With Donkey’s help, Shrek manages to rescue Princess Fiona (Sherry Benedek). Could Shrek be the prince in ogre’s clothing she’s been waiting for or will she end up with Lord Farquaad and live unhappily ever after?
Mahoney is an amazing Shrek, complete with a scary roar, an authentic Scottish accent, and some great dance moves. He also has a strong singing voice, whether arguing with Princess Fiona in “I Think I Got You Beat” or hiding out from the world in “Build A Wall.” Benedek is fierce and just a little bit crazy as Fiona. She’s not only an awesome singer, belting out her tunes, she also has her own sense of humor, such as when she destroys a bird, gets the Pied Piper’s rats moving, and throws a deer in “Morning Person.” Dieter embodies that crazy Donkey with a huge amount of enthusiasm, sass, and constant one-liners. In “Don’t Let Me Go,” he references all the things he would do for Shrek, including hide a body or shave his back. Now THAT’s a good friend.
Props go to Tracy Bird for the costumes in the show. Fiona is outfitted in a regal green velvet gown, with a skirt that comes off for her tap dancing number. It can’t be easy to outfit a bunch of fairytale characters, but Bird makes sure they’re instantly identifiable, down to the glasses and canes on the three blind mice, Pinocchio’s lederhosen with wood-looking blue fabric, and the three bears fuzzy outfits. Like everything else in the show, no detail is overlooked. The makeup, hair, and costumes are absolutely flawless, and the small details make the show that much better.
Shrek is also laugh-out-loud funny. During the opening number, Shrek uses a skunk as deodorant and makes adjustments to his backside. There’s also plenty of humor about bodily noises – both from Shrek and Fiona (‘I Think I Got You Beat’ goes so far as to make a contest out of the sounds). Since it’s an ogre, it’s kind of expected. Lord Farquaad, with his abnormally short stature, always gets a laugh. And the humor is also in the details. After Farquaad’s Guards (Wayne Ivusich, Brian Kraszewski, John Machovec, Michael Maistros, Vince Musgrave, Josh Scoff, Tod Wildason, Matt Wolffe) torture Gingy (Veronica Lockett), they retreat while tripping and burping along the way. When the three blind mice are in a musical number, they’re always looking the wrong way. When Donkey gets to Farquaad’s castle, he has a souvenir bag and T-shirt emblazoned with Farquaad’s picture. And when Shrek remarks about the big wall at the castle, Donkey responds ‘I wonder who paid for it?’
The set in Shrek is amazing. At the start of the show, the see-through screen allows us to see Shrek in the cut out of a book. The backdrops – whether it’s a forest or a castle – stretch from one side of the stage to another and really set the scene. When Fiona sings “I Know It’s Today,” she stands in her tower, surrounded by ‘clouds.’ And when Shrek and Donkey go to rescue Fiona, they cross a creepy drawstring bridge while mist rolls around them and a red light shines above. Dragon (Lisa Pastella), oversized and built to move on wheels, is truly fantastic; puppeteer Brian Kraszewski makes Dragon’s mouth move as she sings “Forever.”
Between the amazing costumes, fantastic sets, laugh-out-loud humor, and great actors, ‘Shrek The Musical’ is a show you and the family don’t want to miss. There’s no place like the swamp for an unexpected love story.
Running Time: 2 hours and 50 minutes with one intermission.
“Shrek” plays through May 5, 2017, at Dundalk Community Theatre on the main stage of the John E. Ravekes Theatre in the College Community Center at the CCBC Dundalk campus, 7200 Sollers Point Road in Baltimore, MD. For tickets call the box office at (443) 840-2787 or purchase them online.