Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: (Vancouver) Shrek

Catch the Fun
by Jay Catterson

The 2014 season of Theatre Under the Stars went off with a rousing start last Tuesday with the opening of Shrek: The Musical, based on the hit DreamWorks Animation film and storybook by William Steig. This show has changed a bit since its Broadway bow, but even with all the post-Broadway tinkering done to David Lindsay-Abaire's book and lyrics and Jeanine Tesori's music, the clunky parts of the show still remain; however, the majority of the show does work, and it is done justice by the TUTS cast, directed by Sarah Rodgers. 

The cast is simply radiant, both in acting and vocals. Matt Palmer's Shrek is truly loveable and Palmer embodies the misunderstood ogre with much heart and a convincing Scottish lilt. Ken Overbey brings a phenomenally sassy performance as Shrek's pal, Donkey, and Lindsay Warnock's high-strung Princess Fiona is truly a joy to watch. Other standouts include Sharon Crandall as the soulful Dragon, and the gorgeously voiced Taylor McKee as Teen Fiona. However, the scene-stealer of this show is Victor Hunter as the vertically-challenged Lord Farquaad, and knocks the role out of the park with impeccable comedic timing, all while performing on his knees! The choreography by Julie Tomaino was exuberant, and was equally complemented by the tight orchestra led by music director Christopher King. 

The jokes took a while to sink in with the audience, and there were a few technical glitches with Brian Ball's set and Robin Boxwell's sound design, but as the production continues throughout the summer, I'm pretty certain that these things will get sorted out. Overall, judging by the crowd reaction by the time the cast sang "I'm A Believer" during the encore, this show is a hit with kids and adults alike. Paired with the return of last year's TUTS production Legally Blonde, the place to catch fun musical theatre in Vancouver is the Malkin Bowl. 

July 11 - Aug. 22

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