Shrek Shines Bright, Jan. 25 – 30

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TPAC’s Broadway Series presents:

Shrek the Musical (All Ages)
Jan. 25 – 30, 2011
TPAC’s Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
782-4040 • tpac.org
Show times: Tue – Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 and 8 p.m., Sun 1 and 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $42.50 – $62.50

If your family has been waiting for the perfect family-friendly theater outing in Nashville, Shrek the Musical will delight the youngest and the oldest in your brood.

I admit I was quite thrilled and surprised by how sensational Shrek the Musical actually is.  There’s no need to know the storyline from the movies in order to enjoy this show.  In fact, I never saw any of the films (I’m not a big fan of animated flicks), but I love the stage show.  It’s pure fun from start to finish.

A 15-piece orchestra performs the lively score in robust fashion. Tim Hatley’s magnificent scenic design gives the set multi-dimensionality accented by slick lighting effects that bring Shrek’s world to vibrant life.  Hatley is also responsible for the show’s dazzling costume design.

It’s the talent on stage that makes or breaks a show, however, and in this case, an impressive array of actors with Broadway credits embrace the stage, bringing the fanciful characters to life in a highly entertaining manner.

Eric Petersen stars as the giant ogre, and he deftly delivers Shrek’s boisterous personality, from a roaring giant with quick wit to a tender-hearted gent who falls for the princess he rescues from a tower.  Petersen’s vocals are as big and bold as the character he portrays.

Likewise, Haven Burton as Princess Fiona lends much life to the show.  She, too, possesses impeccable vocal chops, and her duet with Petersen, “I Think I’ve Got Your Beat,” is one of the best in the production.

Alan Mingo Jr. gives a fabulous performance as the wise-cracking Donkey, and David F.M. Vaughn’s portrayal of Lord Farquaad is a crowd favorite.  Vauhgn performs with much vigor, and his role as the height-challenged wannabe king is hilarious.

Carrie Compere voices the larger-than-life Dragon with much strength and passion.  Four puppeteers bring the giant dragon puppet to magical life on stage during the “Forever” scene, one of the show’s enchanting moments.

Twenty-two memorable songs make up the score, and along with the aforementioned duet by Shrek and Fiona, “Freak Flag” is a standout number, performed by the fairytale characters including Pinocchio (Blakely Slaybaugh), Peter Pan (Denny Paschall), Gingy (Aymee Garcia), Wicked Witch (Holly Ann Butler), Sugar Plum Fairy (Sandra Denise) and more. The song speaks to one of the show’s underlying themes: that its OK to be who you are and what’s on the inside of a person (or beast) is the important thing.

Adults will enjoy Shrek the Musical just as much as their kids, thanks in part to the witty dialogue and subtle jokes that can be interpreted differently by adult ears (sort of in the same vein as the classic Bugs Bunny cartoons).  It’s not too often that a musical truly offers something for everyone in the crowd, but Shrek surely does!  It’s a phenomenal production, which your family will love.

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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