“Shrek: The Musical” is a stage production based on the popular animated film about a misfit giant who finds true love. Children’s Theatre Company’s production stars Reed Sigmund as Shrek, Autumn Ness as Fiona and Ansa Akyea as Donkey. Critics are calling the show everything from “sharp” and “witty” to “pretty ordinary.”
What’s your take?
There’s no way, for example, that a theater producer, no matter how well-heeled, can recreate Princess Fiona’s dark castle with the rickety bridge over molten lava, the fire-breathing dragon (in love with Donkey), the castle keep. So CTC doesn’t try. Instead, director Peter Rothstein (the super-talented local music theater auteur) and wonderful designers Paul Whitaker and Kate Sutton-Johnson substitute swirling red gobo lights, explosions and a knockout Supremes-esque singer (Lauren Davis) as the Dragon. Scary? Not really. Effective? You bet.
Director Peter Rothstein keeps the tempo fast and the spirits high as the play unfolds on Kate Sutton-Johnson’s brilliantly green trompe l’oeil set, in which a series of concentric circles frames a seemingly endless road. While Jeanine Tesori’s musical score is a fairly unmemorable pastiche of musical styles, Denise Prosek’s sharp musical direction and Michael Matthew Ferrell’s witty choreography lend it some sparkle and punch.
Shrek and his donkey sidekick are just too bland. Reed Sigmund and Ansa Akyea are talented performers, but there’s little humor in their characters here — they’re too realistic and not exaggerated enough. The donkey is supposed to be an annoying, over-the-top blabbermouth, but in this show, he comes across as pretty ordinary. The ogre is not particularly fierce or cynical, either, which makes his transformation later not exactly surprising or inspiring.
“Shrek: The Musical” runs through June 15 at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis.