Friday, February 7, 2014

Roving Pittsburgher Report - Ogre Love Conquers All
A Review of Shrek the Musical, Feb. 6th 2014 Performance

Ogre Love Conquers All
A Review of Shrek the Musical, Feb. 6th 2014 Performance

From: Roving Pittsburgher and
Written By: Stephanie Curtice | Feb. 07, 2014

We all grew up with those classic fairy tales of damsels in distress saved by a handsome prince, where love triumphs over the wicked, and everyone was perfect, pretty, and happy. Well Shrek the Musical, which opened February 6th at Pittsburgh’s Byham Theater, was a perfect toe-tapping love story just like that – well mostly.

Shrek the Musical
(photo courtesy: Pittsburgh Cultural Trust)
The dashing hero Shrek (Billy Mason) is not quite prince charming, because you know it ain’t easy being green. The shunned ogre was content to live in the quiet of his swamp. That was until it was invaded by misfit fairy tale characters, banished from the kingdom of Duloc by the droll Lord Farquaad (Tim Hartman). The pint-sized ruler offers a challenge for Shrek to regain his stinky swamp. All he needed to do was rescue Farquaad’s bride-to-be from a dragon protected tower.

With the help of his charmingly witty and relentless noble steed, Donkey, Shrek rescues the beautiful maiden Fiona (Emily Lynne Miller) narrowly escaping the pink dragon, a singing diva. At first unimpressed with the efforts of the outcast ogre, Fiona warms up to Shrek and a few commonalities break wind for an unexpected romance. But, Fiona bearing her own curse and is not who she seems. Now in love with Fiona, Shrek tries to break up her wedding to Farquaad. Meanwhile, the renegade fairy tale characters storm the castle in their own revolt against the mini monarch. Happy ever after comes for all as they fly their "Freak Flag" with pride and Fiona's true identity is revealed by power of true love’s kiss.

Shrek the Musical
(photo courtesy: Pittsburgh Cultural Trust)
Now even before the show I was wondering what differences there would be from the movie. Shrek the Musical was adapted from the popular 2001 animated film by DreamWorks and the children’s book by William Steig. It was directed by Colleen Petrucci, with a score by Jeanine Tesori and a book and lyrics by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire. Like the movie it was laden with numerous pop culture jokes and fairy tale spoofs. But it additionally had spoof references to other musicals like Les Miserables, Gypsy, The Lion King, Wicked, and Chorus Line including one classic style tap dancing number, “I Think I Got You Beat.”

The show featured a Pittsburgh native too. Tim Hartman, who played the vertically challenged Lord Farquaad, hilariously hammed it up for the hometown, all while scooting around on his knees the whole show. Shrek the Musical was full of fun, upbeat music, comical spoofs, witty jokes, a great message of acceptance, and incredible costumes, like Pinocchio’s trademark growing nose. The singing was outstanding and the acting superb. I know its still cold out, but don’t just pop in the DVD. Go out, take the kids to see Shrek the Musical live, you won’t be sorry. The family friendly show is one you and your kids won’t want to miss!

Special shout out to my 7th grade neighbor Ishmael, who joined me at the show.  His favorites were Donkey for the laughs, great singing and accent by Shrek, and special effects like Pinocchio's growing nose.  He gave the show two thumbs up too!

Additional Performances:
Feb 7th and 8th  |   7:30 PM
Feb 9th
  |   2:00 PM
Feb 14th and 15th
  |   7:30 PM
Feb 16th
  |   2:00 PM

By: Stephanie Curtice

Good News and Cultural Reporter

(c) 2014

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