“Shrek The Musical” ASU Gammage

This review aired on KBAQ January 6, 2011


Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

There were lots of children at the opening of “Shrek The Musical” at ASU Gammage. That was great since this musical about the lovable ogre is just for the little ones. Adult chaperones will be squirmy as the predictable story unfolds.

And the touring “Shrek” production is different from what I saw on Broadway. It’s not the grand scenic spectacle. Gone is much of intricate scenery. The show is so slimmed down that it’s tiresome to watch because so little happens and it takes so long to resolve the shenanigans.

The score is pleasant but the songs aren’t memorable. Ugly Shrek is turned from his home when he’s 7, an ogre tradition. He finds a swamp and sets up housekeeping. He stumbles upon other characters like a talking donkey. He rescues the beautiful princess Fiona from her tower confinement. She plans to join Lord Farquaad in a fairytale wedding but she has a secret. The story tells young audiences that being ugly is only in the eye of the beholder. Someone, somewhere always finds even the ugliest person winsome. It’s a simple message but a good one for little audiences.

The touring production isn’t as sharp as Broadway and the double-entendres that enticed adults on Broadway are gone as this cast slaughters every humorous bit. Eric Peterson’s Shrek doesn’t hold the stage, Haven Burton lacks original star Sutton Foster’s glib delivery, and David F. M. Vaughn lacks distinction as Lord Farquaad. Only Alan Mingo, Jr.’s Donkey comes close to succeeding.

I chatted with Aila (I la), age 9, who sat next to me. Aila loved the “Shrek” movies and she was impressed by what she saw on the ASU Gammage stage. Her first act favorite moment was a charming trio between three Fiona’s at various ages. She thought the dragon looked “Like a real one.”  Another little guy about 6 was asked what he liked about the show. His quick and bright response was “everything.”  I’m not convinced that the adults, including this critic, had the same marvelous time. The show is too long for young audiences. Jason Moore and Rob Ashford’s direction drags and is not truly imaginative or inspired. By the second act, many of the youngsters had fallen asleep or were very restless.

There are better shows than “Shrek” to introduce young audiences to stage musicals. “Shrek” earns two stars out of five for adults and three stars out of five for young audiences. “Shrek” plays through January 9 at ASU Gammage. For tickets, call the ASU Gammage box office at 480-965-3434 or order tickets online at www.asugammage.com.

Grade: D For Adults
              C For Children


One Response to ““Shrek The Musical” ASU Gammage”

  1. jim said:

    Jan 09, 11 at 13:59

    you are way too cynical, the show was terrific. a terrific experience and a terrific show do not have to have the best music.