A Night in the Swamp with Shrek
Broadway-rooted musical makes its way to the Playhouse stage
What: Shrek The Musical
When: 7:30 p.m. tonight (Thursday), Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 11, 12, 13 and 14 – LAST WEEKEND!
Where: Omaha Community Playhouse, 69th and Cass streets
By Danny Wikowsky
When I go out for a night at the theater, I often look forward to an evening that is rich with laughter, heart-warming moments and even a happy tear or two. And that’s exactly what you’ll find with the Omaha Community Playhouse’s production of “Shrek The Musical.” Fueling the fun is a cast and crew that brings lots of fun to the theater experience by way of talented performances, lovely set designs and a story that is hard not to love.
When you go to see a live production of an animated film that is so familiar, you arrive with pre-determined thoughts about how you think it will go, or should go. This production has the right mixture of what you know, and what you don’t, which keeps you guessing as the plot unfolds.
Director Kimberly Faith Hickman did a wonderful job of pacing throughout the show as it moved briskly from Shrek’s swamp, to Lord Farquaad’s castle and beyond – no spoilers! She was able to utilize a large cast to showcase an array of characters that created a vast universe that easily enchanted the audience. With such a large cast - at times with 20-plus on stage for musical numbers - the movement becomes that much more important. Melanie Walters did a nice job of positioning the cast to ensure all characters were highlighted, giving every actor the opportunity to shine.
Several actors had great moments throughout the show – led by Steve Krambeck as Shrek, and Mackenzie Dehmer as Fiona. They both created a fun chemistry between their characters, and strong voices to back them up. Dehmer’s Fiona had a quick wit to her, earning several laughs along the way. The musical talent of Jordan Smith (Donkey) and J. Isaiah Smith (Lord Farquaad) really shines through each time they’re on stage, impressing with vocal and comedic ability. Addressing the height of Lord Farquaad how they did was something that I’m still LOL’ing about. A big moment in the first act is provided by Kerri Forrester who plays the Dragon, and gives us a musical moment on stage to remember.
The ensemble numbers throughout brought so much energy to the show and were highlights of the evening. “What’s Up, Duloc?” was downright hilarious, but more importantly sounded great. The orchestra, directed and conducted by Jim Boggess, added the right touch to the production with performance and execution. Some lighting tricks worked while others could have used a bit more finessed, but that is being nit-picky. The large set pieces helped create the different worlds, and their intuitive design led to quick transitions that helped the show keep its pace. This is a fun production that leans heavily (and rightfully so) on the ensemble, and they don’t let us down.
Shrek the Musical runs at the Omaha Community Playhouse through October 14. As Shrek says, “better out than in," you still have time to get out and see this one.