Shrek, the Musical, show #817
It’s a big, bright, beautiful world as live theatre returns to Sierra Repertory Theatre, bringing a talented cast and wonderful technical design to Sonora audiences! I was able to attend Shrek, the Musical’ opening weekend. Director/choreographer Valerie Rachelle helms the animated-film adaptation with whimsical charm on the aesthetic front, allowing for the scenes to deliver the heart of the show, which is its message of tolerance, acceptance, and letting your freak flag fly.
(Jerry Lee (Shrek); Photo credit: Bill Herbert)
Jerry Lee leads the swamp of misfits and royalty as the titular ogre, singing with a booming baritone which rings well in the opening “Big, Bright, Beautiful World.” Lee delivers a physically dominating Shrek while not losing the ogre’s playfulness and desire for connection underneath all the onion layers which ogres have. Lee gives a vulnerable look into the ogre’s feelings with a charming “When Words Fail,” as he is about to pursue the much-desired Princess Fiona. Christine Rowan dons the tiara and dress of the princess being pursued, giving the quirky bride to-be a refreshing silliness. Rowan’s vocals dominate in the Act Two opener, “Morning Person,” giving her shimmering vibrato and strong belt their time to shine among the tap dancing and physical bits with the forest animals. Rowan and Lee team up for the funniest turn at the gaseous “I Think I Got You Beat,” complete with all the passing of gas and belching one needs in a musical. The trio isn’t complete without Shrek’s hilarious sidekick, Donkey. Keenon Hooks dons the hooves and fur of Donkey, giving a wonderful turn as Shrek’s “noble steed.” Hooks’ song-and-dance turn in the act two “Make a Move” is stellar, complemented by pitch-perfect backup support by Gabrielle Smith, Jackie Thompson, and Camryn Elias as the three blind mice. Lee, Rowan, and Hooks give a smashing vocal performance in the act one finale, “Who I’d Be,” hitting harmonies and solo lines with ease and delightful prowess.
(L to R: Quinn Igoe (Young Fiona); Christine Rowan (Fiona); Alissa DeAnda (Teen Fiona); Photo credit: Bill Herbert)
Supporting highlights come from Courtney Glass’ big-voiced and appropriately comical turns as Gingy and the Witch; Alissa DeAnda, as Teen Fiona, and Quinn Igoe, as Young Fiona, along with Rowan for an expositional-and-delightful “I Know it’s Today;” and Michelle Mais as the Dragon. Mais’ costume and makeup, in addition to her grounded, soulful vocals in “Forever,” give her standout performance an all-around brava as audiences rarely see, but typically only hear, the dragon. William Thomas Hodgson gives his turn as Lord Farquaad a great dose of comedic takes and line deliveries which allow his “What’s Up, Duloc?” the proper support needed for success. The ensemble executes Rachelle’s choreography in “Story of My Life,” “Freak Flag,” “Morning Person,” and “What’s up, Duloc?” with proper balance of legit turns, lovely leaps, and the animated energy required.
Bethany Deal’s costuming delivers on all accounts, especially for the fairy tale creatures, with traits and quirks all accounted for. Steve Channon’s excellent projection designs allow the audience to truly enter the world of Shrek while working well off of Dana Moran Williams and Whitney Lehn Meltz’s scenic design. Brenda O’Brien’s make-up and hair design give pop to Deal’s costumes. Dialect coach Kimily Conkle deserves a shout out because the ogre-adjacent Scottish, as well other non-descript dialects for several of the characters, are not only accurate but completely enunciated, understandable, and consistent in song and in scene.
Do hurry in getting your tickets to see Sierra Repertory Theatre’s production of Shrek, the Musical before it closes October 3rd. Also, please check out their website, www.sierrarep.org, prior to your attendance to ensure your awareness of protocols and procedures. Sierra Rep is deserving of your time and support, so celebrate Sonora’s return of live theatre and check out the show!