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BWW Reviews: SHREK THE MUSICAL Brings Romance and Twisted Fairy Tale Characters to Life in Simi Valley


SHREK THE MUSICAL, based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks film that started it all, brings the hilarious story of everyone's favorite ogre to life on stage at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center through April 6, 2014, presented by Actors' Repertory Theatre of Simi. The production is directed by David Daniels, produced by Jan Glasband, with Musical Director Matthew Park and choreography by Becky Castells.

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 bad guy 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 19 songs, great dancing and lots of laughs, SHREK THE MUSICAL is part romance, part twisted fairy tale and all irreverent fun for everyone! The Simi Valley production runs for almost 3 hours and there are several songs that could be cut without spoiling the story line, making it a much more time-friendly show.

There are several standout performers whose acting, singing and dancing enhance the entire production each time they take the stage. First and foremost is George Chavez as Shrek, who is to be commended for pushing through many sound system problems the day I saw the show. Chavez embodies the much-loved character who gets thrown out of his home at the age of 7 and must learn to make his own way in life. Along the way, Shrek reluctantly rescues a talkative Donkey (scene stealer Patrick Batiste) from some of Farquaad's goons, after which. Donkey insists on tagging along ("Don't Let Me Go"). And Monica Ricketts is a wonder as the soulful, romantic singer and tap dancing Princess Fiona.

Ben Deschaine designed and constructed the Dragon puppet, voiced by powerhouse Renee Cohen who also handles puppeteering the Dragon's mouth to match her own singing. Much like War Horse, this large puppet is operated by many people, with each bringing the Dragon's wings, tail, and body to life in time to the song "Forever." Their team work makes this character a real show highlight.

And kudos to Nicholas Ferguson who spends the entire show on his knees playing Lord Farquaad, the bad guy who wants to marry Princess Fiona just so he can become King. Ferguson is a real treat, making the bad guy likeable and charming in his villainy. Kevin Ellis and Daniel Mahler are to be commended for designing the costume which shrinks Ferguson to half his size yet still allows him to move and even dance to great comical effect.

Then there are all the fantasy and fairy tale characters who team up with Shrek to try and get their land back, most notably Pinocchio (Kyle Cooknick), The Sugar Plum Fairy/Gingy (Stephanie Klimek) and the Three Blind Mice (Rene Cohen, Shelby Roth, Michelle Zelina). Julio Arroyo as the Pied Piper joins in the tap dancing fun with Princess Fiona and the Tap-dancing Rats in "Morning Person," one of the most entertaining production numbers in the show.

And for base body humor, you can't beat Shrek and Fiona's one-upmanship song "I Think I Got You Beat" during which they first realize how perfect they are for each other. Poor Donkey who can only hold his nose and shake his head at the whole thing!

So grab the kids and see SHREK THE MUSICAL at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center through April 6 on Fri & Sat at 8 pm and Sunday at 2 pm. Tickets are $25 Adults, $22 Seniors & Students and $18 Children and can be reserved by calling (805) 583-7900. Most performances sell out in advance, so be sure to call and reserve your seats!

Upcoming performances:
Friday, March 14, 2014 @ 8:00 PM
Saturday, March 15, 2014 @ 8:00 PM
Sunday, March 16, 2014 @ 2:00 PM
Friday, March 21, 2014 @ 8:00 PM
Saturday, March 22, 2014 @ 8:00 PM
Sunday, March 23, 2014 @ 2:00 PM
Friday, March 28, 2014 @ 8:00 PM
Saturday, March 29, 2014 @ 8:00 PM
Sunday, March 30, 2014 @ 2:00 PM
Friday, April 4, 2014 @ 8:00 PM
Saturday, April 5, 2014 @ 8:00 PM
Sunday, April 6, 2014 @ 2:00 PM

Patrick Batiste as Donkey and Renee Cohen as the Dragon

Princess Fiona (Monica Ricketts) and the tapping rats.

Three Blind Mice - Renee Cohen, Michelle Zelina, Shelby Roth

Three Fionas - Lydia Botello (Young Fiona), Monica Ricketts (Princess Fiona), Allison Martinez (Teen Fiona)

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From This Author Shari Barrett