Everyone loves a fat, green, Scottish ogre that hates the world and everyone in it. This is just a giant recipe for success and "Shrek: The Musical" makes sense.
Thoroughly Modern Productions (TMP) has made a bit of a cottage industry performing fairy tales over the last few years with productions of "Beauty and the Beast," "The Wizard of Oz" and "Peter Pan" delighting audiences. "Shrek: The Musical" is a perfect fit for David and Mallory DaCosta's production company and this version of "Shrek" should please adults as well as kids.
"Shrek: The Musical" tells the story of the first film, but with a bunch of pretty catchy musical numbers, some dancing and adorable kids running around. Shrek is an ogre that contentedly lives alone in a swamp, but when the fairytale creatures of the neighboring kingdom of Duloc are exiled, they show up right on his muddy doorstep. Shrek wants a return to his peace and quiet, so he embarks on a journey to meet the nasty Lord Farquaad, the man who exiled the group, to ask him to take them back.
On his adventure he meets a smart aleck donkey named Donkey and gets embroiled in a different adventure to rescue Princess Fiona from a castle surrounded by boiling lava and a dragon.
The real joy in TMP's production is getting to watch classic moments from the film come to life on stage. Director Mallory DaCosta takes several of the iconic moments from the film that cost a small fortune to reproduce on a Broadway stage and scaled them down to fit a reasonable budget and The Tower Theatre stage in Bend. DaCosta's casting for "Shrek" is excellent, with a deep bench of vocal talent and a few secret weapons that pop up, knock a song out of the park and disappear into the background again.
David DaCosta plays Shrek and had a touch of laryngitis during the dress rehearsal. His sad and lonely gaze helped anchor the show. Tommy Kuchulis is a fun Donkey, imbuing him with the proper manic energy the character needs. There are quite a few strong vocal performances, but the real knockouts are Ryan Klontz (recently seen as Ash in "Evil Dead: The Musical") as Lord Farquaad and Stephanie Crespo as The Dragon and The Wicked Witch. Klontz brings such precision to his vocal work and his acting that he defines the villain that you love to hate. Crespo is a vocal powerhouse channeling Tina Turner and Diana Ross in equal measure. Whenever they're on stage, the show crackles with energy and excitement.
"Shrek:The Musical" is a blast and judging from the instant standing ovation from the entire audience, this theater lover isn't the only one who thinks so.
"Shrek: The Musical"
Fri. Jan. 22 to Sat., Jan. 30
The Tower Theatre
835 NW Wall St., Bend