Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Shrek: The Musical

The latest show to make its World Premiere in Seattle before heading to Broadway is Shrek: The Musical.  The show has been running at the 5th Avenue Theatre since August 14th in preview performances to work any kinks out and fine tune the show in response to audience feedback, with the official opening set for September 10th.  

The show seemed pretty solid, though had a bit of a slow start to me.  Towards the end of the first act it was really up to speed and the second act was outstanding.  

Make no mistake, this is a true Broadway spectacle, beyond all measure.  

Just stepping into the theatre, the entire stage, as if by magic, had been transformed into a swamp.  Dramatic set changes, brilliantly vivid scenery, and everything else you'd expect from a first-rate Broadway production were present.  For this alone, the musical is worth every penny.  

You needn't look far to find the humor in this production.  From Lord Farquad's hilariously diminutive depiction, to the jokes interjected in nearly every line of the script, you'll be laughing from beginning to end.  Though I could have done without some of the cliche one-liners scattered throughout, there were plenty of fresh and appropriate lines to make up for it.  Additionally, as has become a standard in animated films, you'll find plenty of adult humor that will go right over the kids heads, which is a good thing because there were far more young people at the performance than most I attend.  I especially enjoyed the subtle references to other recent Broadway musicals, including "Wicked", "Avenue Q", and "The Lion King".  No doubt there were others, but these three were unmistakable if you've seen any of those shows.  

The music was, well, unmemorable.  While there were a few distinct tunes, well-performed by the cast and the surprisingly large orchestra, the overall music seemed rather flat.  In fact, I don't recall any siginficantly showstopping numbers that one might expect in any musical production.  Yet somehow that didn't significantly detract from the quality of the show.  The music was still very appropriate to the theme of the show, integrated well with the dialogue, and didn't interfere with the rest of the production. 

I have no doubt that this will make a huge run on Broadway and probably get several Tony nominations.  As for my ratings:

Cast:  4 stars - A great collection of proven Broadway stars.
Script:  4 stars - Hard to argue with a proven formula, but well adapted to the stage.
Technical: 6 stars - A rarity that I would exceed my 5-star scale, but there's no better way to describe it.  The lighting, scenery, and entire package was nothing short of spectacular.  
Music:  3 stars - But don't be disappointed by that. 
Costumes:  5 stars - Adding this category, because it deserves special mention.
Overall: 4 stars - I would definitely give this my highest recommendation for the first time seeing it, but it doesn't have the repeatability that I would demand from musicals that receive my coveted 5-star rating.  

Shrek plays in Seattle through September 21st before starting previews on Broadway this November.  Definitely worth seeing while it's here.

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