By Erika Brown Thomas
The Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences’ production of Shrek The Musical is a great way for theatre lovers of all ages to spend a laughter-filled morning.
Shrek is based on numerous films of the same name. A grouchy ogre spends his time belching and roaring his way throughout the forest until his happy home is infringed upon by fairy-tale characters who have been forced from their homes. For a more complete synopsis, click here.
At Marriott, Shea Coffman plays the offensive ogre with gusto and easily captures the attention of little ones with his “potty-humor” and one-liners. And while many audiences members have probably seen these movies with the inimitable Mike Meyers in the title role, Coffman provides a great character that alludes to Meyers’ Shrek without being a direct copycat performance.
Princess Fiona (Jacquelyne Jones) is the stereotypical fairy tale princess, but with a twist, of course. Jones has a wonderful voice and in this musical adaptation by Lindsay Abaire, she gets every opportunity to show it off. Jones wins easy audience affection as the princess who struggles her way through how her story is supposed to be versus what will be.
Jonathan Butler-Duplessis plays the hysterical and actual side “kick,” Donkey. A standout number for Butler-Duplessis is the “Travel Song,” which has been creatively staged (Scott Weinstein, director and William Carlos, choreographer) with moving landscapes and famous childhood characters making cameo appearances.
And of course, no fairy tale would be complete without a veritable villain. Lord Farquad (Steven Strafford) elicits giggles with every “step.” Whether it be by “horse” or by “foot,” comedic gags are in place for this mini man’s perfectly executed movements.
The ensemble is an integral part of this production as its members play multiple characters in the tiny kingdom of Duloc. Some particular standouts are Kiersten Hodgens as the Dragon with her hot vocals and Landree Fleming as the pitiful cookie, Gingy, turned champion cheerleader for the entourage of outcasts.
Some of the special effects that are easily afforded the animated Shrek, are taken care of by the video designs of Anthony Churchill. And while at times, this switch to screen technology proves a bit anticlimactic, it easily articulates plot points and gets the job done.
Marriott Theatre presents “Shrek The Musical” through December 30 at 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire. More information and tickets are available here.