REVIEW ROUNDUP: Shrek the Musical National Tour Opens in Chicago
The show, which is based on the story and characters from William Steig's book Shrek! as well as the DreamWorks Animation film Shrek, features book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lindsay-Abaire, and music by Jeanine Tesori.
The company features Eric Petersen in the title role, Haven Burton as Princess Fiona, and Alan Mingo, Jr. as Donkey, along with Joe Abraham, Holly Ann Butler, Carrie Compere, Emily Cramer, Tyrone Davis, Jr., Sandra DeNise, Aymee Garcia, Brian Gonzales, Justin Greer, Lisa Ho, Benjamin Howes, Mara Newbery, Denny Paschall, Sarah Peak, Morgan Rose, Blakely Slaybaugh, and David F.M. Vaughn.
Chicago's two daily papers have published reviews and both critics are finding the musical to be winning and have praise for the principals' and ensemble's performances.
The reviews include:
Singing Shrek has more heart in Chicago
"Eighteen months after the Broadway opening of a show that was shrill, insecure, overproduced and overly anxious to please, the second iteration of "Shrek the Musical," which opened Sunday night at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago, has finally discovered a human scale. Or, to put it another way, "Shrek the Musical" has belatedly found more of a heart."
"But once you and your family get past the clatter and confusions of that first hour, once Shrek emerges from a swamp that befuddled the creators of this show, this musical will likely draw you into its little morality tale about accepting yourself for who you really are."
"...there is something advantageous when you can buy Haven Burton's Princess Fiona as a full-time princess by day and ogre by night, rather than a princess with a sideline as an expensive star of the musical theater. And while Eric Petersen's Shrek might not come with as much gravitas as the cinematic or theatrical originals, it's cheering that the green dude now plays younger and less emotionally articulate, and thus more vulnerable. This guy couldn't sit in the swamp alone. You feel like Fiona is his only chance."
Shrek, the Musical is clever, quirky, kitschy fun
"The top-drawer first national touring company of Broadway's "Shrek" arrived at the Cadillac Palace Theatre here Sunday night, and it's a surprisingly goofy, grand-scale delight. The hip zaniness and verbal agility of the show's book and lyrics come courtesy of playwright David Lindsay-Abaire....Composer Jeanine Tesori's exuberant flair for musical pastiche is of the highest order. She can devise a classic tap routine for rats or palace guards; a torchy R&B number for a dragon; a perfect wake-up song for a bipolar princess; the ideal ballad for a heartsick ogre; the most winning backup beat for four tortured knights or three blind mice in pink gowns."
"And the direction by Jason Moore and Rob Ashford, combined with a terrific cast, lavish design (by Tim Hatley and Hugh Vanstone) and a superb pit orchestra buoyed by first-rate sound design, go a long way toward striking an ideal balance between the show's antics (including farts, burps and gross-out jokes) and its heart."
"As Shrek, the easily lovable Eric Petersen uses his powerhouse voice and lovable giant's pain to grand effect while Haven Burton brings her power pipes and a wonderfully relaxed nuttiness to Princess Fiona (with the golden-voiced Madison Mullahey as her youngest incarnation). Alan Mingo Jr. is the coolest, funkiest Donkey pal an ogre could wish for; Carrie Compere has a fire-breathing voice as the Dragon; David F.M. Vaughn is a hoot as the "kneecapped" Lord Farquaad, and the large ensemble is exemplary."