Thursday, July 18, 2019

Shrek the Musical a little too green

May 6, 2019 by Katy Weicker staff writer

Victoria Operatic Society (VOS) is a community theatre company with a good reputation for producing professional quality theatre. I’ve seen countless shows by VOS and, for the most part, I agree—they consistently knock it out of the park. However, their latest production, Shrek the Musical(based on the animated film), while charming, was not their strongest show.

Part of this is the writing itself—the over-the-kids’-heads jokes of the movie aren’t pushed far enough, making it definitely a show for kids (fart jokes and all). Despite this, VOS chose to start the show at 8 pm. With a total run time of two hours and 40 minutes, it ended far too late for most children to attend.

Victoria Operatic Society’s recent Shrek the Musical was an ambitious production that fell a bit flat (photo provided).

That being said, VOS made some bold choices with the work. The show was technically ambitious and visually delightful. While there were some sound issues with microphones and piped-in flatulence not quite matching up, the sets were bright and vibrant and made great use of moving pieces and screens. 

The costumes and make-up were stellar, allowing the ensemble cast to move seamlessly through their never-ending costume changes, embodying countless fairy-tale creatures over the two acts. These actors should be commended for their ability to tackle multiple small roles, bringing them all to life in a delightful and engaging way. 

Dwayne Gordon also deserves praise for his portrayal of Lord Farquaad. Gordon has a knack for playing bad guys we love to hate. He brought an audience-engaging flair to the role that was both endearing and groan-worthy (in a good way).

Dan Comeau and Mandy Wiltshire were scene-stealing as Donkey and Dragon, respectively. Comeau’s Donkey started off as a slightly too heavy-handed imitation of the movie version, but he quickly found his footing, serving Donkey-drag realness that brought the sass to a level that I never knew I needed. Put him next to Wiltshire’s diva Dragon, and the chemistry was on fire.

The secondary characters were very strong; I actually found the weakest links to be Shrek and Princess Fiona. Again, a large part of this may be the writing. Shrek’s internal battle seemed to be missing, and Fiona’s edge felt a little soft. While Morgan McLeod (Shrek) and Heidi Fox Lange (Fiona) gave solid performances, the characters felt shaky, particularly against Gordon’s and Comeau’s. This made it hard to root for the main couple, and, therefore, to invest in the show.

All that being said, this was an ambitious production and, while not quite up to VOS’ usual calibre, a solid and entertaining effort.

Shrek the Musical
Various times, until Sunday, May 12
Various prices, McPherson Playhouse
vostheatre.ca

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