Go see Shrek the Musical. Right now!

We just got back home from seeing Shrek the Musical which is currently in try-outs at the Fifth Avenue Theatre here in Seattle.


This show's going to be BIG when it hits Broadway.  I'm talking Hairspray big.

It's one of the funniest shows I've seen in a really long time.  The main characters are brilliant, and the writing is very funny. 

Brian D'Arcy James was great as Shrek and Sutton Foster as Fiona was uncannily like the movie version.  It was scary at times.

I was particularly struck by the scene where they introduced Fiona.  They had three actresses playing the part of Fiona - at age 7, 15 and 25ish, they each sang part of the same song.  It was beautiful and really touching.

Not surprisingly the show had some rough moments, but in it still was one of the best shows I've seen in a long while.

One very nice touch in the show is that just as the movie of Shrek had lots of clever references to classic fairy tales, the musical version of Shrek is filled with clever references to other Broadway shows[1].   For instance, there's a scene where the fairy tale characters are all interviewed by Lord Farquaad (the villain).  The characters all stand in a line on stage and Farquaad interviews them using the "G_d Mike" (as Daniel calls it).  The characters then sing a clever song about how they want Farquaad to pick them.  It's a pastiche of A Chorus Line.  Other shows we saw referenced were Wicked, The Lion King, Avenue Q[2], High School Musical and others.



Over the past few years, I've seen 6 different shows on tryouts in Seattle: Hairspray, Princesses, The Wedding Singer, Young Frankenstein, Lone Star Love and Shrek.  After seeing the shows, I've accurately predicted how 5 of the six would do (Princesses and Lone Star Love disappeared, The Wedding Singer was a pretty good success, Young Frankenstein was funny and was a hit but isn't nearly as good as The Producers was, and of course Hairspray was utterly huge).  I honestly think that Shrek could top Hairspray.  It is THAT good.


So go see Shrek if you can.  If you can't see it in Seattle, get tickets to see it on Broadway.  You won't be disappointed.




[1] Disclaimer: The show I saw is in VERY early tryouts.  So far, they've had exactly 4 performances in front of a live audience.  It's entirely possible that anything or everything I saw tonight might change before it hits Broadway.

[2] The Avenue Q reference was when the character of Pinocchio, played by John Tartaglia says that he's going to make a mix tape for someone else (if you've seen Avenue Q, in it Princeton makes a mix tape for Kate Monster).  What makes this bit particularly funny is that John Tartaglia originated the role of Princeton in Avenue Q.

Comments (9)

  1. Anonymous says:

    thank you for your review!  I bought tickets for next saturday’s show.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You obviously have no taste in musicals whatsoever. This was the single worst musical I have ever seen. The music sounded like it was composed by a third year high school band student. The lyrics were worse. The actor who played "Donkey" gave a performance that made Eddie Murphy’s role in "Pluto Nash" Oscar-worthy. The only funny jokes (barring the Lion King reference) were those that were stolen directly from the movie. The only good things about the musical were Fiona, Farquad, and the sets. Even the kids I was sitting near in the theater seemed bored.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wow, are you off on this musical.  Not whether it will be popular or not – since most broadway tickets are sold to tourists, the name Shrek will insure some success.  But, quality-wise, the lyrics were ridiculously bad, the music was horrible and there was a fart or burp sound effect every five minutes.

    Seriously – absolutely horrible.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well, there’s no accounting for taste, but seriously… are you sure you saw the same musical as the rest of us?  Holy Cow’s comment accurately summed up my sentiments, although I noticed neither Cow nor Violated mentioned one of the most egregiously horrid numbers, which was a tap-line involving rat-shoes.

    Due to blog posts such as this, and the 100% routine standing ovations, I’m starting to think that the majority of the 5th Avenue’s audience check their standards with the coat room before entering the theater.

  5. Anonymous says:

    i loved the musical shrek and i have seen almost every musical that has come through 5th ave. i thought what you wrote about the musical was dead on!!!! it was fabulos!!!! except i got seats on the side so i could seen what was happening backstage which kind of blew the magic, but thats not their fault, that theater isn’t made to have that big of set. i thought Sutton Foster was the best ever!!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    My husband and I saw this on the final "dress rehearsal" before the critics came and honestly, we didn’t think it was all that great, it just wasn’t what I was hoping for.  As far as the characters, Shrek was fair but he didn’t seem to have command of the stage.  He did have the accent down as compared to the movie and had a nice singing voice, but the songs were not that memorable.  Neither my husband or I thought there was any chemistry between Donkey and Shrek.  Donkey didn’t have the sass I was expecting.  He was kind of boring.  There was only one song he did that he actually came across with any real personality and it was one he sang the the "Three Blind Mice", but even that I can’t remember what the song was.  Like I said the songs were not all that memorable.  I thought Lord Faarquard stole the show…he was awesome, very captivating, and wickedly entertaining. I couldn’t wait until he came back on stage because everyone else was kind of blah.  Also, Fiona did a great job with what she was given, she played it sweet and brash at the same time.  Unfortunately, during the show we saw, the stage turntable broke and they took about a 20-30 minute intermission to fix it.  That made a long show even longer.  Anyway, I hope they tweek it some to make the transitions smoother, maybe cut out a song or two to pick up the pace and light a firecracker under Donkey to add some zinga nd spice to his character.  I am not a trained critic just someone who enjoys the theater.  I hope they can make this work, it would be a shame if it flopped on Broadway.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I was in Seattle on vacation and had the opportunity to be in the fourth audience of Shrek.  I think your review was pretty much dead on.  I loved the show and I can’t wait to see it on Broadway (I live on the east coast). My biggest issues were with Donkey’s personality (couldn’t complain about his singing voice in the least) and some major inconsistencies with the Dragon which need to be worked out.  But overall, I laughed until my sides hurt.  Being a true theatre geek, I loved the little "shout outs" to all of the other Broadway musicals.  By the way, there was also a Spamalot reference when the cow was catapulted over the moon.  =)  

    Not sure what show all these other folks were seeing … but I went in hoping to have a good time and I was NOT disappointed.  

  8. Anonymous says:

    Going to see it on Broadway, November 17th.  I will update this post after I have seen it.

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