BWW Review: SHREK, THE MUSICAL at Musicals At Richter
On Friday, July 26, I had the pleasure of seeing the musical comedy SHREK, THE MUSICAL, as put on by Musicals at Richter in Danbury, CT. This well performed show features music by Jeanine Tesori, and book & lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, It is based on the Dreamworks Animation Motion Picture and the book by William Steig. Directed by Lindsay O'Neil, this talented cast brings these characters to life!
The outdoor venue on the grounds of the Richter House Arts Center is perfect for this show that itself is primarily set outdoors. Along with the talented live orchestra, under the music direction of Dan Koch, and stunning choreography by Lindsay Miller, the venue helps create the feel and mood that pervades this story. The back of the stage has painted trees while real trees loom over from the top. On this clear night, the only noticeable insects were the fireflies that enhanced the ambiance, with their presence.
Kevin Bielmeier shines in the leading role of Shrek, providing humorous delivery and powerful singing. His stage chemistry is excellent with Emily Walsh who convincingly portrays Princess Fiona, Shrek's love interest. Kevin Bielmeier also has amazing stage chemistry with Teah Renzi, who is spectacular as Shrek's sidekick, Donkey. It was an interesting decision to adjust the pronouns in the dialogue and lyrics to outright make the traditional male role of Donkey become a female character.
Roger Grace brings strong energy to the role of Lord Farquaad, the central antagonist. Roger Grace shines in his portrayal of this villain who for selfish reasons of personal greed has his goals set on marriage to Princess Fiona, who is imprisoned in a castle guarded by a Dragon. Lord Farquaad lacks the courage to attempt to rescue Princess Fiona, himself, so he cuts a real estate deal with Shrek, the ogre, pending on Shrek's ability to rescue Princess Fiona, a task Shrek sets out to do, accompanied by Donkey. Princess Fiona meanwhile expects her rescuer to become her true love, a human true love, not an ogre.
Weston Pytel commands attention, stealing the show in the second act, portraying a very determined and no-nonsense Pinocchio, who comes across as the leader of the fairytale creatures. Daisy Stott is very amusing as the Sugar Plum Fairy who also puppets the hilarious Gingy. This production also features part of the chase before Gingy is captured, a very entertaining surprise.
In addition to Emily Walsh, the musical number "I know It's Today," also showcases the singing talents and stage presence of Madison Bielmeier as Teen Fiona and Abigail Rivas as Young Fiona, both of whom have strong voices and a powerful stage presence.
If Shrek and Princess Fiona spend enough time together, will they start to develop romantic feelings for each other? How will Donkey attempt to provide the distraction to get past the Dragon? Why does Princess Fiona seem to have an extreme fear of the dark? Will Lord Farquaad's evil plot towards Princess Fiona come to pass? Do you know the Muffin Man? Come to the show to find out!
I highly recommend SHREK, THE MUSICAL, as put on by Musicals at Richter, in Danbury, CT. Performances are scheduled to run through August 10 on Friday-Sunday evenings at 8 PM, with additional discounted performances scheduled for Thursdays August 1 and 8. Grounds open at 7 PM for picnicking. For tickets and more information, please visit musicalsatrichter.org or call 203-748-6873.