By: Analisa (Swerczek) Peyton
When Omaha Performing Arts first released the names of the musicals coming to town this year, I have to admit that Shrek was one of two shows that made me most excited. While I was never a huge fan of the movies, I had the opportunity to see Shrek on Broadway back in 2010, and I still can’t talk about it without a huge smile planted on my face and only the best memories of that theatre experience.
It’s rare to find shows these days that genuinely have something for the whole family to enjoy. Shrek is one of those musicals/stories that every can relate to on some level. The lessons that can be taken from this wonderful musical are applicable to people at every stage of life. Some of my personal favorites I took from the show are that beautiful doesn’t always mean pretty; and that being true to who you are in a world that might tell you that being different is wrong is one of the hardest and most rewarding things you can do.
Even without the life lessons that add such color and heart to the production, the show would be unforgettable. It could stand alone with just its wonderful staging and catchy score, which are only made more powerful when taken on by a talented cast like the one in Omaha this week.
Perry Sook was absolutely charming in his portrayal of the title character, Shrek. While he seemed to be somewhat vocally tired when it came to the big songs like “Who I’d Be” --- although it could have been the sounds system, which seemed to be turned down a lot in this production --- he was spot on during more intimate songs such as “When Words Fail,” which was one of my favorite songs this evening. His acting choices and line delivery stayed true to the character and the story, helping to create this fairytale land for the audience. I can’t imagine that’s an easy thing to do when covered in green makeup and a body suit, which says a lot about the amount of talent Perry has.
Whitney Winfield was unstoppable as Princess Fiona, a young princess waiting for her prince to rescue her from her tower, and for true loves kiss to break the curse put on her as a child. Her Act 2 opener, “Morning Person” was a crowd favorite, as well as her hysterical dueling duet with Shrek, “I Think I Got You Beat.” She brought to life the quirky personality of Fiona, as well as showed the emotional side of a young girl waiting for her life to change. A great tapper, actress, and singer, Whitney is definitely someone to keep an eye on in the coming years.
Jeremy Gaston (Donkey) and Christian Marriner (Lord Farquaad) were the big show-stealers tonight. Whether it be their fantastic vocals or unbeatable comedic timing, I couldn’t stop watching them when they were onstage. In a cast of such talented performers, it’s hard to believe anyone would be able to stand out as much as these two did tonight. “Forever” (Donkey’s duet with the Dragon, played by the talented Courtney Daniels) and “The Ballad of Farquaad” were met with much deserved thunderous applause. I look forward to seeing more of them in the future.
While the performance tonight had a few minor setbacks, it was still an absolutely wonderful night of theatre at the Orpheum. Regardless of whether or not you are a fan of the movies, this production of Shrek is not one to miss if you love laughing, music, and wonderful stories and characters. Get your tickets now. I wouldn’t be surprised if word of this wonderful production spreads and the remaining shows sell out. I know I’m going back again… And I’m sure I’m not the only one.