BWW Review: SHREK at South Carolina Children's Theatre
It's a Big Bright Beautiful World.
Unless, of course, you're an ogre.
Shrek - a big, green, grumpy, gassy ogre - lives alone in a swamp, far away from the other fairy tale creatures populating the town of Duloc. But when Lord Farquaad banishes the likes of Pinocchio, the ugly duckling, and the big bad wolf from Duloc, they are forced to seek refuge in Shrek's swamp. And so Shrek's comfortable world is turned upside down.
If you're familiar with the 2001 blockbuster movie Shrek (and really, at this point, who isn't?) you have a good idea how this musical adaptation plays out. It's a fun, colorful inversion of fairy tale tropes filled with amusing moments performed by an enthusiastic cast.
Will Ragland makes a terrifically dour and disagreeable - and ultimately lovable - Shrek. Ragland is a gifted performer who brings his strong voice and assured presence to the role. He plays well against - and with - Manny Houston's delightful turn as Shrek's companion, Donkey. Carly Stelling also impresses as Princess Fiona as does Austin Smith as the smug Lord Farquaad.
Also impressive are the more technical elements, including Will Ragland's sets, Lauren Imhoff's choreography and Ryan Bradburns' costumes and puppets.
Director Betsy Bisson keeps the emphasis on the core messages of the piece: friendship and inclusion. It seems like it's more important than ever to reinforce the message with kids - and adults - that we are all unique and that we shouldn't judge others by appearances. And when a positive message is wrapped in a tuneful mix of colorful characters and fart jokes, well, that's a pretty winning combination.
South Carolina Children's Theatre's production of Shrek the Musical runs through September 23 at the Peace Center's Gunter Theatre in Greenville, SC.
For tickets and showtimes call the Peace Center box office at 864-467-3000 or visit scchildrenstheatre.org.