Review: Shrek the Musical (Lower Ossington Theatre)

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Shrek the Musical brings to life your favorite characters from the movie playing at Toronto’s Lower Ossington Theatre

Shrek the Musical is a delightful romp that will take you back to the first instalment of the Shrek film franchise, but with more foot-tapping musical numbers. This theatrical take on the popular film about an ogre who decides to blow fairy tale convention out of the water and write his own story is dynamically produced by the Lower Ossington Theatre and performed on the stage of the Randolph Theatre.

This was my first time seeing a LOT production and while I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, I was incredibly surprised at the quality of the show’s performances. I saw Shrek the Musical a few years ago on a visit to New York City, where I was lucky enough to see the original cast. Not having heard anything about it beforehand, I was struck by how catchy the music was and how seamless it felt to watch the Shrek story told in musical format.

Lower Ossington’s version has some impeccable talent involved including a lovably gruff Andrew Di Rosa as Shrek, complete with rich Scottish brogue, stinky attitude, and robust sound; a sassy Michelle Nash, who saved the first act’s lack of big energy with her big personality; and the impressive knee-stamina and perfectly whiny evil-as-a-result-of-daddy-issues Andrew Soutter as Lord Farquaad. The quality of the casts’ voices, ensemble included, are really impressive.

The set and costume design for the show, products of Michael Galloro and Pierre Costumes, were equally good-looking. An intricately carved proscenium is set up in the foreground with a dynamic set of screens (or were they LED lights) hanging in the background, their images changing depending on the scene, whether it be the dragon’s keep or Duloc castle.

I think my favourite pairs of costume/props/set and actors combined were Gingy, the gingerbread man, portrayed hilariously with great timing by Shannon Dickens, and the glittering purple fury of the Dragon, an enormous creature requiring multiple puppeteers and voiced by the phenomenal tones of Ann Paula Bautista.

The show I saw last Friday evening started a little bumpy, but picked itself up near the end of the first act, with a strong start to the second. There were quite a lot of little ones in the audience, which was great to see, but a lot of them were carried out midway through the second half. I think a two-hour show starting at 7:30pm is a little late for young kids, but I would recommend taking them to see one of the matinees on Saturday or Sunday.

There were also some technical issues with the mics, with EQ levels being a little bit off for certain parts, though it didn’t detract too much from the talent on stage.

Shrek the Musical is fluffy and fun and brings all of your favourite characters from the movie to big, theatrical life. It’s a great evening for the family. I would know, my mom absolutely loved it.

Details

  • Shrek the Musical is playing until October 19, 2013 at Randolph Theatre (736 Bathurst Street)
  • Shows run Thursday through Saturday at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 2pm, Sundays at 4pm
  • Ticket prices range from $49-$59
  • Tickets are available online, or through the box office at 416-915-6747

Photograph of Andrew Soutter as Lord Farquaad provided by the company.

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