BWW Reviews: Boulders' Dinner Theatre Brings Ultimate Family Enjoyment in Their Summer Smash SHREK THE MUSICAL!
Boulder's Dinner Theatre (BDT) presents Shrek the Musical, a song-and-dance-filled stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning DreamWorks animated film series now until September 6th. In a faraway kingdom turned upside-down, things get ugly when an unseemly ogre - not a handsome prince - shows up to rescue a feisty princess. Throw in a donkey who won't shut up, a villain with a SHORT temper, a cookie with an attitude and over a dozen other fairy tale misfits, and you've got the kind of mess that calls for a real hero. Luckily, there's one on hand...and his name is Shrek. With music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, this entertaining, family-friendly musical comedy features a terrific score, with 19 songs including "Travel Song" and "I Think I Got You Beat."
I hate to admit this but I did roll my eyes when I saw this movie musical on Boulder's Dinner Theatre's roster for this past season. Then I saw this show with its surprise special effects, great dancing, tapping and singing and legion of funny and fun filled characters and now I'm a believer! Special high praises go to director and choreographer Matthew D. Peters for thinking of almost every aspect of this production from the whimsical names on the menu for all the dishes (which added a childlike whimsy to the pre game and I absolutely adored) to the great dance numbers. I also have to compliment him on effective blocking with such a large cast and liquid smooth flow to to this musical and I thoroughly enjoyed the choreography in What's Up Duloc and Morning Person! The only error that I noticed was that the show seemed to lose steam in the last couple of scenes and that that was further emphasized by not having a big dance number at the end. Had the last song (This is Our Story) had more decisive choreography and the encore (I'm a Believer) encouraged the audience to get involved by having the cast dance with the kids in the aisles; then this would have made this otherwise energetic and fantastic show complete (and I am sure that parents would have thanked them for wearing out their children children for children for the children for the car children for the car ride home!). The best compliment I can give this production doesn't come from me but the excitement and glee from kids and adults alike in the audience every night! BDT took a risk both artistically and financially with this musical and with its memorable characters and singing, high energy dancing, hilarious performances and eye - opening special effects, this show is sure to be a hit and one of the family features of the summer! Highlight songs include Story of My Life, Don't Let Me Go, I Know it's Today, What's Up Duloc, The Travel Song, Forever, This is How a Dream Comes True, Who I'd Be, Morning Person, I Think I Got You Beat, Ballad of Farquaad, Make a Move, When Words Fail, Build a Wall, Freak Flag, Beautiful isn't Always Pretty, and the encore - I'm a Believer.
The talented Seth Caikowski really made this iconic character of Shrek his own. While he did take elements from the memorable role of Shrek such as the accent, Seth truly made it his own with his grumpiness, sarcasm, and most of all heart! I loved his renditions of the Travel Song (with Donkey), When Words Fail, Build a Wall, and the adorable - I Think I Got You Beat (with Fiona). Norrell Moore was radiant as Princess Fiona her stellar voice came ringing through in I Know It's Today (and I have to also compliment all of the Princesses in this number for a great job), This is How Dreams Come True, and Morning Person. Tyrell Rae's fierce performance as Donkey not only stole the show but also our funny bones and our hearts. His charm and that twinkle in his eye kept a smile on everyone's faces and we all enjoyed his songs Don't Let Me Go, Make a Move, Who I'd Be (with Shrek and Fiona). Scott Severtson kept us laughing as the charismatic and attitudious, Lord Farquaad. Not only did he have fun singing What's up Duloc and The Ballad of Farquaad, but his physical staging was funny and superb.Amanda Earls was never seen during the show, but was definitely heard in her fiery voice-over as the Dragon. I loved all of her inflections that she added and her song Forever ( with Donkey) was great! Other scene stealers include Brett Ambler that infused a hilarious voice and performance as Pinocchio and Bob Hoppe as the sassy and uniquely alternative Big Bad Wolf.
Director Matthew D. Peters along with music director Neal Dunfee took their time picking out an outstanding cast and it showed through and through. I also appreciated the decision of the creative team to feature a manageable dessert - when life leaves you devoid of waffles - make parfaits!!! Neal also kept the music upbeat and the energy alive with his talented band. Scenic designer Amy Campion once again outdid herself with this wonderful transformation to a far away land. I loved the woodwork of the trees and the all the mini-sets really transported the audience into all of the varied scenes and lands (I especially enjoyed Shrek's home and Finoa's isolated tower). The talents of audio designer Wayne Kennedy and lighting designer Brett Maughan were apparent throughout with perfect blending and special effects and were highlighted in the Dragon's Lair. Linda Morken proved her versatility with her brigade of awesome costumes. I so appreciated that she gave each of the massive ensemble their own individuality and flair (with the help of the gifted hair and wig designs of Debbie Spaur). Her costume and facade of the King Farquaad was hilariously awesome and I also loved Donkey's outfit as well. Makeup artist Todd Debreceni deserves total snaps for his amazing masks for the ogres that looked natural and expressive. The highlight of the show belonged to the puppet creation by designer Cory Gilstrap. From large to small - he showcased his craft with the fun gingerbreadman, Gingy and the jaw-dropping and larger-than-life dragon. Job very well done by all!
Boulder's Dinner Theatre presents four Broadway-quality musicals each season, and has been recognized locally and nationally for theatrical excellence. BDT's 37th Season opens on September 17, 2014 with Church Basement Ladies 2: A Second Helping, followed by the Broadway classic Fiddler on the Roof, opening November 14, 2014, Forever Plaid, opening March 6, 2015, and Mary Poppins, opening May 16, 2015.
PHOTO CREDIT: Glenn Ross Photography
PICTURED ABOVE: Norrell Moore as Princess Fiona, Seth Caikowski as Shrek