Review: ‘Shrek’ brings fun, good voices — and lots of children of all ages

Review: Shrek brings fun, good voices -- and lots of children of all ages

Ogre-ear headband clad children ran past me as I walked into the Town Hall Arts Center in Downtown Littleton for “Shrek – The Musical” on Nov. 22, and I was wondering what I had gotten myself into. But Wicked had a green main character right? And that was a really great musical.

So I grabbed my ticket from a very kind volunteer and proceeded up the stairs where I was directed to my seat in the theater by another pleasant volunteer.

Let me tell you. I was shocked to see how magnificent this stage looked. Sure it’s a small venue, it’s a small town, but the rise of the seats as well as their crescent setting make it so there is not one bad seat in the venue. All theater lovers need to make time to see a performance here.

Cory Wendling plays Lord Farquaad.
Cory Wendling plays Lord Farquaad.

The stage props were also superb. I could tell they took a long time to plan this one out. There’s puppetry, a dragon, and teeny tiny Lord Farquaad, played by Cory Wendling, who is way funnier in this play than he was in the movie and the actor is on his knees the entire play! Sorry John Lithgow, Wendling has you beat.

Expected burp and gas jokes aside, the play itself is pretty darned good.

It starts out with a Young Shrek, who at the age of seven, is too old to live with his parents, so he must leave his home and make his own way in life. Luckily, on his journey alone, he finds a swamp of his own and makes a stinky fortress for himself.

That is, until he finds fairy tale squatters, played by a very skilled bunch (my favorite was the gingerbread man / fairy combo), living in his swamp. They had been sent there by Lord Farquaad.

Adult Shrek, played by handsomely-voiced TJ Hogle finds out that he cannot evict this group of pariahs and is instead hired by Lord Farquaad to rescue Princess Fiona in exchange for the deed to the swamp, to which he can legally banish the squatters.

Right before this, Shrek meets his future bff donkey played by the extremely talented Tyrell Rae and they go on this adventure together. Personally, Rae’s performance of donkey made the entire play for me. Rae brings an even more flamboyant and exuberant change of pace to the donkey character and makes it his own. Also, that voice! I see big things for this actor. He just dazzles on stage, even dressed as a donkey.

After making it to the tower where Fiona is waiting for them they come across a beautifully vocal ranged dragon, played by Anna High. Donkey distracts the dragon, while Shrek goes and finds Princess Fiona in her room.

Rebecca Ortiz played Fiona.
Rebecca Ortiz played Fiona.

Fiona, played by master vocalist Rebekah Ortiz, is a step up from your typical Disney princess. She can hang with the boys and still look great. But she has a big secret that you’ll have to see the play to understand.

And even though this play ends with a love story, it goes way deeper than just that. The theme throughout the play is self-love and I think anyone can benefit from seeing this play. I know I did! Who knew it was possible to have serious feelings from watching an ogre? I sure didn’t.

Rating: 5 of 5 gumdrop buttons

There is a student discount for ACC student tickets available online and in person. Additionally, in a continuing effort to make plays at Town Hall Arts Center more accessible to all, 10 value seats at $10 each are available on a first-come, first-served basis one-hour prior to each published curtain time (limit two per person).

The Town Hall Arts Center is at 2450 W. Main St., Littleton. Phone 303-794-2787. The play runs through Dec. 27.

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