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Shrek the Musical’ encourages audiences to ‘let your freak flag fly’

Courtesy of Joan Marcus

“True Life: I’m A Fairytale Creature” — it wouldn’t be surprising if this were the actual title of “Shrek The Musical.”

The show is the story of a group of fairytale creatures who are banished to an ogre’s swamp. The musical’s plot follows the same as the first film. Shrek, the ogre, begins a quest to retrieve the deed for his swamp and get rid of the squatters. Along the way, he encounters a talking donkey who assists him in the rescue of Princess Fiona from a tower guarded by a dragon. True love ensues.

The live-theater version of the story gives the audience a window into the thoughts and emotions of its characters in a way the film does not.

Familiar characters from other fairytales make their appearance. The gingerbread man (Gingy), the Big Bad Wolf, Pinocchio and other seemingly minor roles have a chance to tell their variation of being ejected from Duloc, the fictional kingdom and setting for the show.

The musical treads closely to the storyline of the first film, but it includes much more character depth than before.

Shrek’s portrayal by Lukas Poost and Liz Shivener’s Princess Fiona do not stray much from the film’s depiction of the two. Both characters seem to be much more vulnerable, especially singing songs like “When Words Fail” and “I Know It’s Today,” though Shrek’s ill-mannered nature lingers.

The musical’s portrayal of some characters relies almost directly on their portrayal in the films. It is obvious that Andre Jordan is channeling Eddie Murphy for the role of Donkey, and he does a pretty great job adding a few twists of his own to the character.

Many of the lines in the play are memorable quotes from the first film, such as “Shrek, I’m looking down!” “He huffed and he puffed and he signed an eviction notice,” and “Not my gumdrop buttons!”

The show focuses on the premises of what it’s like to be lonely and what it’s like to be shunned for being different. Though the musical is still called Shrek, there is more to it than Shrek’s story of being hated and ostracized from society — an experience most of the cast is familiar with. One song carrying this theme is “Big Bright Beautiful World,” which describes the characters’ desires, appears multiple times for reprise. Following suit is “Freak Flag,” an anthem the troupe of fairytale creatures sings to Pinocchio. The song encourages him to embrace the puppet he is and to “let your freak flag fly.”

“Shrek the Musical,” likewise, will have you ready to wave your freak flag high.

Grade: B+

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