“Shrek: The Musical,” anchored by three stellar performances with some strong help from others, is a joy at Red Mountain Theatre.
Based on the animated movie from 2001, the show tells the story of the title character, an ogre cast out on his own when he’s 7 years old. He lives in a swamp alone for years, until a wise-cracking donkey arrives and, thanks to a group of misfit fairy tale characters who have landed in Shrek’s swamp, embarks with Shrek on a journey to rescue a princess so she can marry Lord Farquaad.
Like Shrek, Princess Fiona has been isolated from the rest of the world, held prisoner in a tall tower and harboring a secret – she, too, is an ogre, but only at night when the sun goes down. She has been cursed and can only regain her true form permanently with the kiss of her true love.
It’s a fairy tale with a major lesson – be comfortable in your own skin (though, oddly, that doesn’t apply to the vertically challenged Lord Farquaad, the punchline to many a joke about his height). And as Fiona and Shrek make their journey, they both help each other understand that lesson.
Caleb Clark and Alie B. Gorrie imbue Shrek and Princess Fiona with everything they need. They are top-notch singers, actors and comedians, and Gorrie gets to show off her tap dancing chops in the wonderful Act II opener “Morning Person.”
As Shrek’s sidekick Donkey, Dorian is also a delight, a bundle of energy with great comic timing and a voice to match. Blake West as Lord Farquaad and Halo Wheeler as the Dragon also add to the proceedings in a big way.
The whole thing is brought together under the direction of Roy Lightner, with some snazzy choreography by Sara Brians.
The ensemble executes that choreography energetically, and their dance numbers are among the show’s many highlights, but with squeaky-high fairy tale voices, they were difficult to understand when speaking, at least at Saturday’s matinee.
But that’s just a quibble. Audiences, both adults and children, will get the gist of it and have a blast.
“Shrek” is a fun, animated and lesson-filled musical that translates well to the stage.
“Shrek,” at Red Mountain Theatre through June 25.