BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2

Charles Dickens wrote in Great Expectations, "That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day."

Sometimes, there are moments that change our lives forever. For me, it was 31 years ago when someone I was dating took me to see a live musical. I didn't know what to expect, but as a seasoned theatre fan, he knew exactly the right place and time to make the introduction. "I want to show you the cream of the crop, so we are going to see South Pacific at Beef and Boards," he said. It really did change my life; and now I review theatre on Broadway, London's West End, and of course, in America's Heartland. Beef and Boards, a dinner theatre in Indianapolis is where it all began. On the rare occasions I am in the area, I love to go back to the almost sacred place where I had my epiphany.

Now on stage at Beef and Boards is the ogre-sized, greatest fairy tale never told: the breathtaking Broadway musical adaptation of the hit movie Shrek. On one level, SHREK THE MUSICAL is silly family fun, but digging deeper into the story, there are messages that are crucial in life. The Princess, Fiona, never loses her faith in her fairytales. She is trapped in a tower, surrounded by boiling lava, with a fire-breathing dragon Hell-bent on keeping any interloper at bay. I greatly admire her character; how many people would give up on their dreams and just off themselves? I wanted to escape the cornfields of the Amish countryside desperately when I was young, and the odds were greatly against me. I never gave up on my dreams, and today I own a house by the ocean in Hawaii, and have my own knight in shining armor. Theatre gives you the chance to dream about how life can be, should be, or will be. It's like a seed that gets planted in your mind and one day can grow into a mighty oak.

SHREK THE MUSICAL at Beef and Boards is astonishing. The costumes are jaw-dropping, the actors' voices are out of this world, and their performance is stellar. SHREK THE MUSICAL brings all the characters from the film to the stage where the unlikely hero finds himself on a life-changing journey with a wisecracking donkey and a feisty princess who resists her rescue. Throw in a "short"-tempered bad guy, a cookie with an attitude and over a dozen more fairy tale misfits, and you get Noah's Ark of possibilities.

Peter Scharbarough stars as the title character, with newcomers Emily Grace Tucker as Fiona, the feisty princess, and Julius Thomas III as Donkey. John Vessels and Kelly Teal Goyette return to the Beef & Boards stage in the roles of Lord Farquaad and the Dragon, respectively. All of these actors are at the top of their class. You can't ask for anything better.

We were blown away by Julius Thomas III, who stole the stage in his portrayal of Donkey. His energy and enthusiasm were like a ton of dynamite exploding at Guy Fawkes festival. This man was destined to be a star. Thomas has traveled the country, sharing his talent in a variety of Broadway shows, but his current role as Donkey in SHREK THE MUSICAL at Beef & Boards is particularly special. Just like me, it has brought him home to the Hoosier State.

Born in Hammond, Indiana, and raised in Gary (where his parents still reside), Julius has always been performing -- in one way or another.

"I started singing in church as early as I can remember, directing the choirs and being involved in church ministries," he said, noting both his parents play piano and sing in church. "I segued in to school choirs and performing at PTA meetings. 'The Rainbow Connection' was always a crowd-pleaser."

Then, as a student at West Side High School, Julius performed in his school musicals.

"My high school had a great theatre program called the West Side Theatre Guild. We did two shows a year."

Although he enjoyed the experience, Julius did not yet realize his calling.

"I liked it," he said of performing with the Guild, "but it was really a place holder between track and cross country season."

After graduation, he headed to the University of Northern Iowa on a full biology scholarship.

"When I went to college I didn't want anything to do with performing," Julius recalled. But after a while, he realized he was not where he was meant to be.

"I hated it."

The stage was calling. "Eventually (I) switched back to something I did enjoy."

He switched schools, switched majors, and went on to earn his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Wichita State University.

Ultimately moving to New York City, Julius' career took off, with roles in the First National tours of Motown The Musical (as Berry Gordy), Xanadu (as Young Danny and Terpsichore), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Chip, Mitch, Panch u/s) and Shrek, The Musical, for which he was cast as the understudy for Donkey.

At Beef & Boards, he gets to portray the comedic hoofed character at every performance.

"Donkey is the free spirit I always wished I could be growing up," Julius said. "It's my inner child on display."

"Donkey is a departure from everything I've been taught as an actor and by my mom. I get to ignore all the rules, and be the class clown for two and a half hours. I know I've done a good job if the audience is laughing...but I know I've done an amazing job if my cast mates are laughing."

Another beyond-belief performer in this musical is Kelly Teal Goyette. When she sang "Forever" we got goosebumps. We sat in our seats and asked ourselves, "How does someone have such a talent?" Surely there is only one in a million who could pull off that song with such perfection. It is more than a joy, it is a privilege to hear her.

Some moments are life-changing. Beef and Boards will always be that one place where my life took a new direction. If you know people who have never been to live theatre, this is your opportunity to introduce them to a whole new world.

Director/Choreographer Ron Morgan

Co-Director Eddie Curry

Musical Director: Terry Woods

Lighting Design Ryan Koharchik

Set Design Michael Layton

Costume Design Jill Kelly Howe

Starring

Peter Scharbrough as Shrek

Emily Grace Tucker as Princess Fiona

Julius Thomas III as Donkey

John Vessels as Lord Farquaad

Kelly Teal Goyette as Dragon/Mama Ogre

AnnaLee Traeger as Queen Lillian

Sally Scharbrough as Wicked Witch

Amanda Lehman as Ugly Duckling

Jennifer Ladner as Little Red

Kenny Shepard as Papa Ogre

Danny Kingston as King Harold

Sean Seager as Big Bad Wolf

Cody Knable as Pinocchio

Reagan Minnette as Teen Fiona

Anjali Rooney as Little Pig #2

Mary Kate Tanselle as Little Pig #3

Emery Allen as Young Fiona

Eric Best as White Rabbit

Aiden Shurr as Young Shrek

Jack Ducat as Mad Hatter

SHREK performs at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. Tickets range from $42.50 to $67.50 ($10 discounts for ages 3-15), and include Chef Odell Ward's family-friendly dinner buffet, fruit & salad bar, unlimited coffee, tea and lemonade. Ample free parking is also available. For reservations, call the box office at 317.872.9664 anytime between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays. For complete show schedule, visit beefandboards.com. SHREK is sponsored in part by Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent.

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BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017

BWW Review: SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef And Boards, Thru July 2
SHREK THE MUSICAL Wows at Beef and Boards. Through July 2, 2017


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