Shrek

Fun for the Kids, while Mom & Dad have some Laughs, too!

London’s Grand Theatre is beautiful – from the plush red velvet seats to the ornate fresco of renaissance style painting richly gracing the elaborate proscenium arch.  Culture and class have a home at the Grand.  Theatre greats such as Sidney Poitier, Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, and Maggie Smith have graced this lavish stage.  And I’ll hazard a guess that none of them farted and belched.  Shrek_Fiona_Donkey

So that makes it all the more hilarious when Shrek lifts a leg and lets a big one rip, or Fiona burps from her guts, in a very loud flatulence and gas contest.  Juxtaposed with the Grand’s elite setting, this competition causes the audience to roar with laughter.  It may be the first time in the Grand’s 113 year history that rather loud body language is employed on stage.

Despite the fact that this all sounds rather juvenile, Shrek is show that the parents and grandparents can enjoy just as much as the children.  The script is well written and witty, and since everyone can recall all the old nursery rhymes, the whole family can follow the cast of characters on their adventure in the swamp.

The show opens with the Ogre parents casting out young Shrek, sending him to live in the swamp by himself.  At the same time, the King and Queen lock their daughter, Princess Fiona in a tower.

Fast forward many years, and the evil Lord Farquaad has evicted all the story book characters and given them a small plot of land in Shrek’s swamp.  Shrek wants them out, especially the annoying Donkey, so he agrees to find Farquaad a bride in return for moving all the characters.  However, in rescuing Fiona, Shrek finds he’s in love with her—and the story revolves around his dissuading Fiona from marrying Farquaad.

Steve Ross as Shrek and Elicia MacKenzie as Fiona are wonderfully funny and even have heart-warming chemistry.  Liam Tobin as the vertically challenged Lord Farquaad almost steals the show.  Tobin deserves a lot of credit for performing the entire show on his knees.  Troy Adams as Donkey is Shrek’s eager sidekick.  Adams and Ross offer a litany of short jokes, at Farquaad’s expense – “Men of his stature are in short supply”, “You’ll have to lower your expectations”, or he’s good at “small talk.”

The two youngest cast members are delightful:  Skylar Serafim is a perfect young Fiona and Baby Bear, while Zoe Brown is sweet as young Shrek and the Bunny. The rest of the ensemble is wonderful as the individual story book characters, and together with picture-perfect dancing and singing.

Credit goes to Bill Layton for the colourful, interesting and detailed costumes.

Shrek is the ideal modern fairy tale – with a powerful message about judging appearances and getting along with your neighbours.  It’s the perfect gift for your kids and grandkids, because you know they will love it, and you can certainly enjoy it, too.

Shrek continues at the Grand Theatre, London until Dec. 28th.  Tickets are available at the Grand box office at 672-8800 or 1-800-265-1593 or visit www.grandtheatre.com.

Photo: Donkey, Shrek, and Fiona (Troy Adams, Steve Ross and Elicia McKenzie), photo by Claus Andersen.  

Shrek
Book & Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire
Music by Jeanine Tesori
Directed by Susan Ferley
Choreographed by Kerry Gage
Musical Direction by Ryan DeSouza
Performed by Steve Ross, Troy Adams, Elicia MacKenzie, Liam Tobin, Matt Alfano, Alan Bridgewater, Zoe Brown, Patrick Cook, Callandra Dendias, Kristi Frank, Lindsey Frazier, Alexandra Grant, Ayrin Mackie, Robert Markus, Trevor Patt, Skylar Serafim, Jason Sermonia, Julius Sermonia, Lee Siegel.
Grand Theatre, London
November 19 to December 28, 2014
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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