The trend of turning movies into musicals has left us with some theatrical catastrophes, but the big surprise is that Shrek the Musical
isn't one of them. In fact, it's pretty entertaining, or at least this filmed version of the original Broadway production is. The script sticks close to the source material: against his will, a foul-tempered ogre named Shrek goes on a quest to rescue a princess--but the princess turns out to have a secret that changes the fairy-tale ending into, well, a different fairy-tale ending. Shrek's sidekick Donkey (played here by Daniel Breaker, doing an imitation of Eddie Murphy that succeeds through sheer exuberance) frolics with zest. The supporting cast of fairy-tale characters (ranging from Pinocchio to the Three Bears to the Gingerbread Man) have slightly expanded roles (and songs to sing). Lord Farquaad (Christopher Sieber) minces and camps enthusiastically. But the real standout is Sutton Foster (star of the ballet sitcom Bunheads
) as Princess Fiona. When she's on the stage, you forget all about the original movie--Foster's Fiona is like a brand-new character dropped into a movie you've seen a dozen times, a spunky goofball who just happens to fall in love with a surly ogre. In fact, her scenes with Brian d'Arcy James as Shrek bring out the best in him as well; all at once he stops trying to channel a softer side of Mike Myers and just becomes a guy who's losing his heart. Something genuinely sweet fizzes and pops when they're together. The expensive-looking special effects were probably more impressive in the theater and you won't remember any of the songs when the show is over, but whenever Foster takes center stage, Shrek the Musical
truly sings. --Bret Fetzer
The greatest fairy tale never told comes to life as never before in SHREK THE MUSICALr, the highly acclaimed Broadway production based on the smash-hit movie. Called a "triumph of comic imagination" (Elysa Gardner, USA Today) that "never stints on spectacle or laughs" (David Rooney, Variety), SHREK THE MUSICALr received eight 2009 Tony Awardr nominations including Best Musical. Featuring a fantastic score of 17 all-new songs, along with unforgettable characters and outrageous humor, it's ogre-sized fun for the whole family!