Don’t Get Shrek’ed with the Musical, A Review

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

shrekmusicalShrek the Musical debuted to audiences in Seattle in 2008, and after it moved to Broadway, it played there for three years. In 2009, a show was recorded for video release, but it was delayed until now. Released on Sept 17 as a digital download and on Oct 15 to disk, this show showcases the talent known as Brian d’Arcy James (Shrek), Sutton Foster (Fiona), Christopher Sieber (Farquaad) and Daniel Breaker (Donkey). Amazingly, this musical production improves upon the source and the video release is a must-see for how it adds to DreamWork’s now retired product.

The Blu-ray release offers a behind the scenes construction of the musical, and both releases include a songbook for fans to sing along to. If this release can help Shrek return for some direct-to-video piece, fans can rejoice!

Or they can hum along with some standout music in the style of Rodgers and Hammerstein. “I Know It’s Today” is a great song that quickly develops the character of Princess Fiona and her perchance to be whisked away by her knight in shining armor. Her fondness for fairy tales is vividly recalled, and to literally see her grow up as the song progresses makes for a dramatic watch. Interestingly, unlike the film, this Fiona lays awake throughout the production. Foster gives this character the same perkiness that the film is known for. “Morning Person” really needs to be seen to demonstrate that, and thankfully on the night of recording the stage show, the cameras captured her performance at her best.

But the tune that really stands out is “Who I’d Be,” sung by d’Arcy James. His performance of this song, technically a lament, is sealed with a desire to reach for the stars. Shrek’s desire to be something more than just an ogre is well reflected in this song’s lyrics.

The edit for these musical numbers really have to be noted. They sell the song a lot more than just simply seeing it on stage. An audience member’s eyes are technically a one camera setup. For this recording, at least three cameras were used. And the edits are seamless (with the exception for one gaffe). The video really puts the viewer into the show since the majority of the camera shots are done mixing the three types — wide, medium and close-up — together into a well pieced music video.

Although there is no beating seeing a real stage production of Shrek the Musical, to match the budget that was set up for the Broadway production will require numerous investors to get the stage effects, namely the dragon and man in the mirror, done right. The props cannot be second rate, since at least seven set changes will be required. Some budget productions might be able to get away with four. But to enjoy this show, fans of musicals really must weigh in at who is putting this show on. Shrek the Musical is coming to the Pacific Northwest, playing in Vancouver, BC in Feb 2014, and it is being put on by Align Entertainment, a local theatre troupe. But regional shows also exist. All a person has to do is to check local listings, or check out Ticketmaster.

4 Stars out of 5

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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