Shrek the Musical: a party on stage

4g7a4120.jpgNeed a theatrical pick-me-up? Then I’d advise seeing “Shrek the Musical,” Broadway’s version of the DreamWorks film “Shrek” from 2001, and William Steig’s book “Shrek!” published in 1990.

I know what you’re thinking — it’s silly, it’s cheesy, it’s just for kids. It is those things, but the Homestead High School production is also laugh-out-loud hilarious, even if you don’t bring any children with you.

4G7A3686It’s worth seeing just for actor Jack Cannon’s rendition of villain Lord Farquaad, the flamboyant ruler of Duloc who kicks all of the fairy tale creatures out of his kingdom and into the swamp.It’s not unheard of for a baddy to outshine a goody on stage. But rarely do they get the audience so on-side that it’s actually disappointing when their comeuppance finally arrives. So good, however, is Jack Cannon’s performance as loathsome, egotistical monarch Lord Farquaad that, when he succumbs to the fiery chops of the lady dragon (Bella Gabor), you can almost feel the crowd wanting to pull him back out.  Cannon must remain on his knees during his performance as Lord Farquaad, who is a little sensitive about his below-average height. A bustling cape trails behind Cannon covering his legs as he shuffles across the stage, winking, waving and whining in the most confident, convincing and comical ways.

4g7a3544.jpgMeanwhile, the short jokes keep coming as our monstrous protagonist, Shrek (Danny Levy) — a large, green ogre with a flatulence problem — and his new sidekick, Donkey (Silma Berrada), make their way to Duloc in order to get the fairy tale creatures out of the swamp, where Shrek lives all alone. Instead of Shrek scaring Farquaad into submission, Farquaad assigns Shrek the duty of rescuing Princess Fiona (Maizy Allen), the woman he plans to marry, from a fire-breathing dragon.

Not-so-happy-go-lucky Shrek’s journey is made better by his new pal, Donkey, who is relentless in his friendship despite some callousness by Shrek and occasional danger. Silma Berrada, who plays Donkey, has been a staple to the HHS stage since her freshmen year.  With smooth vocals, slick dance moves and witty lines, Berrada has the audience in the palm of her hands.

Although all the actors in the show exhibit major talent, it’s easy to see why Berrada earned the role of Donkey. Not only does she keep the positivity up, but she adds style and heart to the role — a role that’s difficult to fill considering the film version features actor/comedian Eddie Murphy as Donkey.

4G7A3861Well-known fairy tale characters have become more interesting and more relatable. For instance, the Big Bad Wolf (David Blatz) comes out as a cross-dresser, Gingy (Claire Looker) is delightful as the Gingerbread cookie who sasses back to Lord Farquaad.  Pinocchio (Sam Laferriere) delights in his movements, comedic timing and what a voice!!!  The Sugar Plum Fairy (Rachel Truttmann) is sweet as the sugar she is made from, has the dancing chops and vocal to make you stand up and dance along. These characterizations contribute to one of the best songs of the show, “Freak Flag.”

As an unexpected romance develops between Farquaad’s queen-to-be and the ogre, we find out the pitfalls of expectations and assumptions and learn the importance of communication. It’s a modern fairy tale in which the hero isn’t handsome and there is no expansive castle to move into. Instead of being knighted or crowned, our heroes learn what true happiness really is.

Homestead High School’s Shrek The Musical continues tonight at 7pm and tomorrow at 1pm.  Adults $10 and Students $8.

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