BWW Reviews: Lower Ossington Theater's SHREK Is Hilarious, Witty, and Fun for the Whole Family
SHREK THE MUSICAL proved a lot of skeptics wrong when it ended up a Broadway Success. While some may have expected "camp," the show proved itself Broadway-worthy with it's stellar music, composition, as well as set and costume design. The star studded original cast brought the show to life with their stellar talents. Sutton Foster as Fiona, Daniel Breaker as Donkey, and Brian Darcy James as Shrek proved to all musical theatre nerds alike that yes, stage adaptations of children's movies can make it on the Great White Way. The story about an Ogre who makes like prince charming and rescues Princess Fiona from the highest room in the tallest tower (with the help of his trusy steed, Donkey) translates exceptionally onto the stage.
The Lower Ossington Theater put their stellar cast and crew to work, and created their own production of SHREK THE MUSICAL. While the LOT's production of the show stayed true to SHREK's origins, lines were added to make the show more timely, and pop culture friendly. For example, when Lord Farquad, played by the dynamic Andrew Soutter, addresses the people of Duloc, he uses the Hunger Games phrase, "may the odds be ever in your favour," eliciting big laughs from the audience.
The Hunger Games is not the only thing this show refers to for laughs. The show itself already boasts lines alluding to other epic Broadway shows. Lord Farquad lets out a long Elphaba belt ala Wicked, and the dragon when telling Donkey there is no way she is leaving him ends up singing a few bars of "And I Am Telling You." The show is all laughs, and quick wit humour.
As usual, the LOT's casting astounds, as each and every character is perfectly cast. Andrew Di Rosa wows as Shrek, the ogre with heart. Di Rosa nails Shrek's emotion and anguish in all of his passionate ballads, but also shows his hand at comedy with the number "I Think I Got You Beat." As Shrek, Di Rosa is the perfect balance between bitter, sassy, and warm hearted. He touches hearts with the romantic ballad "When Words Fail," and brings the house down with the emotional "Build Me a Wall." His chemistry with his scene partners, Mark Willet as Donkey and Michelle Nash as Fiona, is astounding. Di Rosa will make you laugh, cry, and "aww" in this production as Shrek.
Mark Willet, a constant at the LOT, owns his role as Donkey. He gets up there in that Donkey costume and just works it. His comedic timing is perfection as the quirky Donkey. His soulful voice and sass make him a favourite, and perfect for the role.He owns his two big numbers "Let Me Go With You" and "Make A Move." The latter may be Willets shining moment - busting out the break dancing and back up singers, Donkey has it all in this number that breaks the fouth wall, where he speculates about the growing feelings between Shrek and Fiona.
Michelle Nash is everything one could want in Fiona. She encapsulates her innocence, no-nonsense attitude, and vulnerability all at once. She effortlessly channels Fiona's quirks. Taking on a role originated on stage by Broadway queen Sutton Foster is not easy, but Nash gives it her all. Her energy is constant, and does not waiver at any point in the show. Her comedy shines through in the quirky number "Morning Person." Her ability to convey emotion is later showcased in the numbers reprise.
The show's three shining stars own the stage, their line delivery spot on. However, the fairy tale members that invade Shrek's swamp deserve some recognition. Their costumes are incredible, and their energy is infectious. Their chemistry is undeniable during numbers like "Let Your Freak Flag Out", which entertains and showcases how much of an ensemble piece the show really is.
Last but not least, special attention needs to be brought to the shows scene-stealer - Andrew Soutter. It's been said prior in this review that the shows actors never fall out of character, but Soutter is in character to the point where it is creepy. At no point does Soutter stop acting. As Farquad he reacts to other characters, even when he doesn't have lines. There is no point in the show where your eyes don't fall on Soutter who is constantly touching his hair or having the perfect facial reaction to a characters line or action. His voice is exceptional, but his comedic talents are what make this show. No words can express Soutter's way of stealing the audience's attention. His big solo number as Farquad, "What's Up Duloc" tears the house down, as he belts and dances (on his knees) through this long elaborate number that will have you laughing throughout. The best part however, is when Soutter channels his inner Idina Menzel, grabs a broom, and concludes the song with Elphaba's iconic high notes in WICKED's "Defying Gravity."
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