In the summer of 2001, Dreamwork’s Shrek movie shook up the animation medium with their fresh and new twist on the fairytale genre that has captured the imaginations of generations.
The Shrek movies took the tropes of the classic hero tale and turned it on its head with quick wit and cultural references. Not only that, it managed to balance relatable characters with a rich, meaningful message based in a fantastical world of make believe. How would it be possible to add more to a story that already made its mark?
As daunting a task as it is, Chase Ramsey, UVU alumni and director of Shrek the Musical at Scera’s Center of the Arts, managed to nail it with the right amount of enthusiasm and theatrical thrill.
“We added the prologue and the chapter headings…every scene is like flipping a storybook page,” said Ramsey.
The cast members, consisting of only 23 actors, are intense, full of energy and are connected with the audience in an exciting way.
“[The cast] are all unpaid, which sets us apart from other companies. They all are standout, brilliant and work their butts off. Their work ethic is great and they have come so far,” Ramsey said.
Wes Tolman’s Donkey, a spitting image of Eddie Murphy’s crowd favorite character, still brought an extra ounce of liveliness and humor that only could be realized on stage.
Along the same lines, Carson Davies’ Lord Farquaad costume only exaggerated the character’s Napoleon syndrome. It was a delight to see a renewed life into these recognizable personalities.
Like all other musicals, the music of Shrek elaborates on the plot details that weren’t expanded in the movie.
“The message touches on anti-bullying and that we are all different and that’s okay,” Ramsey said. “The music is beautiful with a beautiful message.”
With the inclusion of the fresh batch of catchy show tunes, the show takes advantage of shedding more light on the backstory of the main characters. For instance, Fiona has her own song detailing her waiting for her Prince Charming’s recue and its side effects that turns her into a raging, psychotic wreck. Songs also touch on the source of Shrek’s distain of people and cynicism of people in general.
Only having movable platforms and stairs, the set was minimalist, allowing the audience members use their own imaginations to fill in the gaps. With only a couple hiccups in the sound, the production team was on top of their game.
Sharing the same story beats, the musical retelling adds more to the characters we have grown to love. Shrek, Donkey, Princess Fiona, Lord Farquaad and the rest of the band of fairytale creatures all appear to the delight of the audience. All the well-known jokes and one-liners like “Gumdrops” and “Onions” reappear in all their comical glory.
When you walk through the theater doors, expect the re-creation of a favorite children’s movie mixed with additional layers of meaning with all the same humor and laughs that you loved in the first place.