A big ugly ogre crooning about love while farting isn’t exactly what most would call high class theatrical art. But somehow that’s what was on display at Ohio Theatre (39 E. State Street,Columbus) as “Shrek the Musical” rolls through town this week.
Well, maybe not high class, but definitely theatrical.
The bubbly and brightly cloaked cast romped through two and half hours of DreamWorks’ popular green creation. The book pretty much sticks to the first “Shrek” in the four-part movie franchise. Ogre meets girl. Ogre falls for girl. Girl to marry evil king. Ogre saves girl from evil king. Girl turns out to be an ogre. Beauty only skin deep message beat over your head. Story ends with catchy pop song.
If you’re a fan of “Shrek” you’ll love this show. If nothing else it’ll make you the “coolest guy ever” in the wide eyes of your 9-year-old nephew. And there’s more than a few well-placed jabs at theater favorites, from “Gypsy” and “Les Miserables” to “Wicked” and “Rent.”
Leading players Lukas Poost as Shrek and Liz Shivener (a Columbus native) as Princess Fiona are adorable enough. Shivener adds that sassy kick to Fiona, reminiscent of Cameron Diaz’s take on the role in the films. And Andre Jordan mostly dons the familiar annoying and slap-happy jabber that Donkey, Shrek’s self-titled sidekick, played by Eddie Murphy in the films. But the highlight for me is Merritt David Janes as the short and ultra campy Lord Farquaad. Janes performs a majority of the show on his knees (no pun intended) and his scene-stealing comedic timing garnered most of the night’s big laughs.
The flashy sets and costumes definitely do the job of keeping grade-schoolers intrigued, which makes sense as Tim Hatley’s costume designs were the show’s only Tony Award win, out of 8 nominations, in 2009. It also makes sense that the show isn’t the total disappointment that I was expecting. Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lindsay-Abaire (“Rabbit Hole,” “Good People”) is responsible for the show’s book and lyrics, while Olivier Award-winner Jeanine Tesori Olivier (“Thoroughly Modern Millie”) composed the music. And the tour is being directed by Stephen Sposito, Associate Director of the wildly successful recent revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” starring Daniel Radcliffe.
Just imagine you’re watching the film play out live mixed with a host of catchy modern musical theatre numbers in the same style as “Legally Blonde” and “The Book of Mormon” and you’ve got “Shrek the Musical.”
“Shrek the Musical” runs Jan. 10-15 at the Ohio Theatre (39 E. State Street, Columbus). Tickets begin at $28, to purchase visit www.ticketmaster.com. For more on “Shrek the Musical” visit ShrektheMusicalonTour.com.