BWW Reviews: Never Too Old for Fairytales - SHREK THE MUSICAL in Bridgeport
Even if you do not have children and you think you are too old for fairy tales, you ought to see the Bridgeport Theatre Company's production Shrek The Musical. The full-version musical, with book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and the music by Jeanine Tesori is truly funny and the cast and crew of this production are absolutely fantastic.
In case you don't know the story, it's a twist on fairy tales. Many of the usual suspects are in it, but the main characters are a height-challenged would-be king, an ogre who was abandoned by his parents at the age of seven, a princess whose parents exiled her to a castle when she was seven, a donkey and a dragon. The ogre is green and gassy, and the princess has a secret she would rather not share, but she plays by the book. That's all I will reveal about the plot. Cheat by going on Wikipedia, but do yourself a favor by seeing this production.
Heading the cast of 30 (!) are Ryan O'Neill (as Shrek), Arielle Boutin (as Princess Fiona), Matthew James Sherrod (Donkey), John Stegmaier (Farquaad), Maggie Pangrazio (Dragon) and Jason Parry (Pinocchio). O'Neill and Sherrod made their Bridgeport Theatre Company debuts, and this critics hopes to see more of them. Sherrod demonstrated exceptional singing, dancing and comedic skills as the sassy, brassy Donkey. (Find him on www.Youtube.com if you don't believe his performance skills.) Pangrazio's voice was gorgeous. Parry was hysterical as Pinocchio. Stegmaier has the gift of being so distinctive in each role that initially he is unrecognizable. He was hilarious as Farquaar. O'Neill was properly bold and empathetic as the ogre. Boutin, with a voice that is always professional, beautiful and smooth, has never been better.
The stage of the Downtown Cabaret Theatre is sizeable, but this is an ambitious show to stage, and Frank Root's direction was amazing. It might have been a bit tighter because family-style shows mean restless kids.
Nevertheless, Abigail Root's energetic and fun choreography kept almost everyone in the audience enthralled. Also exceptional were Kevin Pelkey's set design, Jessica Camarero's costumes. Pangrazio complemented Jessica Camarero's terrific costumes with extraordinary make-up, including the body paint on Pinocchio to make his arms and legs look wooden. Ryan Elle (who also played Little Bo Peep) designed the most extraordinary wigs, particularly that of the Sugar Plum Fairy (Paige Howell). Production designer Damon Testani added magnificent projections to enhance the scenery. Melinda Zupaniotis did a lovely job with the theatre program, using the Shrek font in key places.
Shrek The Musical ends Bridgeport Theatre Company's fourth season. In this short time period, the Bridgeport Theatre has gone from excellent to superb, bringing in a terrific combination of classic hit plays and musicals, but never being afraid to take risk (and getting it right).
Shrek The Musical runs through May 11 at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre, 263 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport. For tickets, call 203-576-1636 Option 0. For more information, visit www.BridgeportTheatre.org.