Princess Fiona (Liz Shivener) | Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Totally Shrek-ed Out!

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 4)

The Toronto Centre for the Arts was buzzing with excitement last night with the opening of Shrek The Musical, presented by Dancap Productions Inc. With a successful tour stop in Montreal, the production hit Toronto’s theatre scene, bringing in the crowds, especially the kids! Shrek The Musical has come a far way since its creation. It first had a reading back in 2007, followed by an out-of-town tryout in Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre. After less than two months, and extensive changes, the production moved to Broadway where it played a total of 441 performances and 37 previews. Shrek The Musical has gone on to have a National Tour, a West End production that began in 2011 and now a non-equity tour that has made its stop in Toronto.

Shrek The Musical tells the tale of everyone’s favourite giant green ogre, Shrek (Lukas Poost), and his journey from childhood to true love. After leaving home at the young age of seven, Shrek created his home in a swamp, determined to distance himself from people and their hatred towards him. His peaceful life is interrupted by the arrival of many fairy-tale beings, all of whom were exiled from the Kingdom of Duloc by the order of Lord Farquaad. In an attempt to ask Lord Farquaad (Merritt David Janes) to get them off his land, he agrees to a deal where he would bring back a locked up princess, Princess Fiona (Liz Shivener), in return for the deed to his swamp. A journey filled with miles of travel and alot of Donkey (Andre’ Jordan), Shrek soon discovers and understands something he never has been exposed to: true love.

Shrek The Musical has gone above and beyond in terms of creativity. The design of the set is fantastic, mixing together brilliantly choreographed lighting, absolutely gorgeous props and in-motion stage elements. All of these combined truly bring the magical world of Shrek alive on stage. You are immediately captivated the minute the curtains go up. The amount of detail gone into the production is mind boggling. It is a truly gorgeous production to watch from start to finish.

The stage production may be brilliant but cast are even more so. Lukas Poost embraces his title role as Shrek. Even with a hefty mask and suit, Poost captivates the audience with his amazing take on Shrek’s Scottish accent, his humour and his ogre-like movement. He does the role justice and more. Liz Shivener compliments Poost’s Shrek with the all-over-the-place Princess Fiona. She brings the perfect balance of enthusiasm and emotion, which allows her character to shine. The only other character that out shines everyone is the adorable, loud-mouth Donkey portrayed by Andre’ Jordan. Jordan brings so much energy to the role that you just cannot stop laughing. In fact, he reprises the role so well that he did as good or a better job than Eddie Murphy, while doing both vocals and live performance.

There is one person though that you could take your hat off too, and that is Merritt David Janes, who performs as Lord Farquaad. His entire performance is done on his knees to outline Farquaad’s height problem. Not only does he pull off witty and humourous lines perfectly, he does entire dance numbers while on his knees. When you see him perform, you are absolutely speechless.

Shrek The Musical has taken a rather simple love story and added brilliant performances and beautiful elements to make an absolutely fantastic theatre experience. It really is Shrek-ing awesome!

Shrek The Musical plays at the Toronto Centre for the Arts until April 1st 2012. For more information and tickets, please visit HERE