If you are reading this, I’m going to assume you know who Shrek is. But have you heard him sing?
That is what audience members were treated to at performances of “Shrek the Musical” put on by CRAFT Productions of Oklahoma at Tulsa Community College’s VanTrease Performing Arts Center for Education (PACE). The show ran from July 12 – 17 and used songs to tell the hilarious story immortalized in the DreamWorks animated film.
For those who are not familiar with the story, it begins with a bunch of fairy-tale characters banished to Shrek the ogre’s swamp by the short-tempered and devious Lord Farquaad. Then Shrek must rescue Princess Fiona from a dragon for Farquaad in exchange for the deed to the swamp back. It is a multi-faceted tale, following the personal growth of Shrek, Fiona, and their fairy-tale friends. But it sounds too serious when you put it like that. There are also some fart jokes!
Indeed, this show balanced the nuances of sharing an important message and being entertaining for all ages! (Provided you like bodily humor, that is.) It was a bit cheesy, but that is part of what made it fun.
The set was one of the most impressive aspects of the performance. Before the performance began, a forest-inspired screen decorated with waves of green had the title projected onto it. Stacks of fairytale books stood on either side of the stage, adding to the whimsical feel. Painted backdrops for the dungeon, castle, and church utilized the artistic technique of perspective to make the room seem much bigger. Moving trees denoted the forest, and there were some multipurpose props, such as Shrek’s house, which doubled as a cave in some scenes. An especially cool set piece/prop was that of the dragon character. It took five people to operate, plus one actress to sing offstage as the voice!
Another thing that made this show special was that it demonstrated a self-awareness, both in its subversion of traditional fairytale tropes (Having an ogre, a traditional “bad guy” as a protagonist; Farquaad needing to marry a princess to become king as opposed to a common girl marrying a prince to become a princess) and in its acknowledgement of being a musical (Shrek’s ever-loyal sidekick Donkey saying “If this were a musical, there’d be flashback scene,” shortly before a flashback scene revealing some of Princess Fiona’s backstory; imprisoned knights in the dragon’s lair saying “We sing backup”; and Lord Farquaad’s “Whoa, plastic horse!” as he rode onstage.) There were also references to several other Broadway musicals – including “Wicked,” “The Lion King,” “Rent,” and “West Side Story” – in the form of snippets of songs from them.
While the leads were exceptional, I would like to especially applaud the supporting cast, which mostly consisted of Oklahoma kids and teenagers! Some of them did double duty, playing fairy tale characters and knights, mice, or dragon puppeteers.
The costumes very excellent too! They were somewhat historically inspired, and showed who the fairy tale characters were, even if they were just in the chorus. Costumes provided by 3-D Theatricals were designed by Kathryn Bergh and coordinated by local highschooler Samantha Krout.
So while there was the occasional mumbling of lines, overall, the performance was superb! The underlying theme that ran through the production was hope. This was shown in Shrek’s longing for happiness even after he had been pushed out by the world, in the fairytale ensemble’s act of standing up to Farquaad and in Fiona’s incessant hope that things would get better for her one day – and they did.
Cast List (In Order of Appearance)
Mama Ogre – Megan Taber
Papa Ogre – Trent Taber
Little Shrek – Cash Curry
King Harold – Brock Ryne
Queen Lillian – Chiara Miller
Young Fiona – Olivia Fu
Shrek – Michael Burrell
Pinocchio – Trace Herrera
Wolf – Josh Yap
Pig #1 – Trent Taber
Pig #2 – Jack Fair
Pig #3 – Tanner Cole
Elf – Megan Austin
Ugly Duckling – Alana Harris
Peter Pan – Gus Baker
Sugar Plum Fairy – Chiara Miller
Wicked Witch – Reese Buchert
Mama Bear – Jameson White
Papa Bear – Greydon Baker
Baby Bear – Austin Tate
Hansel – Trace Buchert
Gretel – Emma White
Donkey – Braxton Johnson III
Farquaad – Zac Kirchoff
Gingy – Ella Philips
Fiona – Erica Stephan
Teen Fiona – Zadie Teague
Dragon – Majeste Pearson
Pied Piper – Austin Tate
3 Blind Mice – Megan Austin, Reese Buchert, Emma White
Grumpy – Ty Drullinger
Dragon Puppeteers – Andi Davis, Griffin Ryker, Drew Schonefer, Jack Whitney, Ayomide Ayodele, Tanner Cole, and Austin Tate
Megan Austin, Ayomide Ayodele, Greydon Baker, Reese Buchert, Trace Buchert, Tanner Cole, Jack Fair, Sadie Fu, Madison Green, Alana Harris, Lincoln Kimball, Emma Petherick, Griffin Ryker, Brock Ryne, Chloe Scott, Megan Taber, Trent Taber, Austin Tate, Emma White, Jameson White, and Josh Yap
Fairy Tale Characters
Lily Anaganost, Gus Baker, Andi Davis, Oakley Frazier, Jordyn Houk, Charlotte Laur, Chiara Miller, Drew Schoenhofer, and Jack Whitney
Gabriel Adler, Adeline Barron, Cash Curry, Ty Drullinger, Farrah Dupree, Tatum Hatfield, Eleanor Jobe, Lyla Knight, Harlan (Izzy) Leedy, Canaan Ross, and Dannon VanDerLinder
“Big Bright Beautiful World,” “Story of My Life,” “Goodbye Song,” “Don’t Let Me Go,” “What’s Up Duloc?,” “I Know It’s Today,” “Travel Song,” “Forever,” “This is How a Dream Comes True,” and “Who I’d Be”
“Morning Person,” “I Think I Got You Beat,” “Ballad of Farquaad,” “Make a Move,” “When Words Fail,” “Morning Person (Reprise),” “Build a Wall,” “Freak Flag,” “Big Bright Beautiful World (Reprise),” “Finale,” and “I’m a Believer”