DONKEY (SCOTT REDMOND) AND SHREK (WILL MANN)
PHOTO BY GERRY GOODSTEIN
Living in a swamp, all on your own, might not be the ideal location for many people, but for one green hued ogre named Shrek it was perfection. Ever since he was cast out from his family at the tender age of only seven, he took up residence in what some might term murky and muddy and altogether yucky. That wonderful address stopped being so fabulous when, suddenly, neighbors started arriving, uninvited and unwanted. It seems a dictator going by the name of Lord Farquaad, who ruled the town of Duloc, evicted all the fairy tale citizens and sent them with all their luggage, baggage and trunks to live in the swamp with Shrek.
Shrek is now forced to find room in his happy home for a lot of fhomeless misfits, namely Pinocchio, the three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, not to mention the Three Bears, the Ugly Duckling, Humpty Dumpty and the Gingerbread Man, to name drop just a few. To get control of his own home territory again, Shrek, an amazing Will Mann, must venture out of his comfort zone, his personal swamp, and confront the wicked Lord, villainy at its best in Mark Boyett, to reclaim the deed to his land. On his adventures, Shrek is accompanied by a wise-cracking new friend named Donkey, a loyal Scott Redmond, who can be helpful at times, and also a huge hindrance, an annoying BFF if there ever was one. Shrek, although an unlikely hero, bravely fights a ferocious dragon and rescues a feisty fearless princess named Fiona, a vivacious Desi Oakley, in the bargain.
To become acquainted with Shrek and his pals, come to the Connecticut Repertory’s outstanding production of “Shrek the Musical” at the Jorgensen Theatre until Sunday, April 30. This fantastic family musical with book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori is great entertainment, with delightful sets by Tim Brown and Morgan Dawn Golightly, choreography by Katie Johannigman, costumes by Corey Brittain and Heather Lesieur and puppetry by Zach Broome.
The use of puppets, a unique feature at UCONN, adds a special element of fun to an already great show, with Matthew Sorensen mastering Pinocchio and the puppeteers creating the Gingerbread Man (Sam Kebede), the Dragon (Valerie Badjan) and the 3 Blind Mice (Rebekah Santiago Berger, Pearl Matteson, Tabitha Gayle) to perfection. The production is such a wonderful adventure, where a green ogre who loves smelly things and his oozy, gooey swamp saves a princess from a dragon and defeats the villain to discover love and true friendship, all in one afternoon or evening.
The message to the audience is “let your freak flag wave.” It’s okay to be different and memorable, even though others may try to belittle us, it’s our differences that make us strong. As Kermit the Frog says, “It’s not easy being green” but that doesn’t mean it’s not great too.