Shrek The Musical is a winner by Foothill Music Theatre.

Fairy-tale characters celebrate their differences in Shrek The Musicalpresented by Foothill Music Theatre, at Smithwick Theatre (12345 El Monte Rd., Los Altos Hills) July 20-August 6, 2017 Photo credit: David Allen

SHREK THE MUSICAL: Book and Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire. Music by Jeanine Tesori. Directed by Milissa Carey. FOOTHILL MUSIC THEATRE, Smithwick Theatre, Foothill College , I-280 & El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022. 650-949-7360 or www.foothill.edu/theatre. July 20 – August 6, 2017.

Shrek The Musical is a winner by Foothill Music Theatre. Rating: ★★★★☆

If you are looking for an evening or matinee of musical theatre fun for you and/or the family head down Route 280 to the beautiful campus of Foothill College to see their great production of Shrek The Musical. Artistic Director Milissa Carey who replaced the legendary Jay Manley and has not missed a step in producing their Summer Musicals.

They have rounded up superb local talent to play the lead roles and rounded out the 35 member cast with young and older energetic attractive actors to fill the minor roles and ensemble. They all perform appropriately but sometimes unevenly on a fairy tale like set in attractive fairy tale costumes. The entire story is as expected in a fairy tale has good guys besting the bad guys in song and dance. They do so in this production accompanied by a live 13 piece orchestra. The running time of two hours and 30 minute with an intermission races along because of the truism “time passes rapidly when you’re having fun.”

It is based on the 2001 DreamWorks film Shrek and William Steig’s 1990 book “Shrek!” with the original opening on Broadway in 2008 and revamped in 2013. This once upon a time story has a marvelous moral defined by director Carey “Shrek is a story of being different, learning to be proud of who you are…. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

After a rousing musical introduction it all begins with Ogre parents sending their seven year old son out into the “Big Bright Beautiful World’ where everyone would hate him and he will not be happy. Years later Shrek (Andrew Ross whose great physic and marvelous baritone voice is perfect for the role) is relatively happy (??) living in the Swamp that is invaded by the cartoon characters (“Story of My Life/Goodbye Song”) including Pinocchio, The Three Bears,The Three Little Pigs, a Wicked Witch, The Big Bad Wolf, Peter Pan, Ugly Duckling, Fairy Godmother, The White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, Sugar Plum Fairy, Humpty Dumpty and Ginger ‘Gingy’ Bread Lady.” They have been banished from the Kingdom of Duloc, by order of the evil ‘height challenged’ Lord Farquaad (a marvelous Joey McDaniel who steals many of the scenes).

Shrek starts out on his quest to help the cartoon characters but mainly  to get back the ownership of “his” Swamp and he starts on his journey to the Land of Duloc. Along the way he rescues the obnoxious, talkative Donkey ( limber limbed Nick Kendrick) who rescues Shrek from the Dragon ( four members of the ensemble and voiced beautifully by Jennifer Martinelli from the orchestra pit with great sound effects by Albert Heller). Shrek accepts Donkey as his guide and we get to meet Fiona (Jocelyn Pickett who earned accolades as Ulla in The Producers) imprisoned for years  in a tower guarded by the Dragon.

When Shrek arrives at Duloc the wicked Lord Farquaad strikes a deal him. Bring Princess Fiona to Lord Farquaad so that they would marry and automatically make him a King (After all this is a fairy tale). If Shrek succeeds, he will be granted the deed to the Swamp. Of course Shrek rescues Fiona falls in love that is initially not returned by her.

Early in the second act there is a fantastic Tap dance number by the ensemble choreographed by Deb Leamy to the tune of “Morning person” that brings thunderous applause. “True love never runs true” complicates the story line. However that obstacle is overcome through song/dance/action with reprise of “Big Bright Wonderful World”, “Beauty Ain’t Always Pretty”, “This Is Our Story” ending with charming Neil Diamond ballad “I’m a Believer.”

Melissa Carey’s direction is pitch-perfect with complete control of what could be mayhem with the huge cast. Her directorial conceit of having the actors ambling out on the runway between the stage apron the orchestra pit singing the major songs concert fashion to the audience works beautifully since many of the lyrics carry the story forward or define character.  The curtain call is a marvel.

This production earns a solid should see and just misses a must see.

CAST: Andrew Ross as ogre Shrek; Jocelyn Pickett as Princess Fiona; Nick Kendrick as Donkey; Joey McDaniel as Lord Farquaad; Jocelyn Pickett as Princess Fiona; Jennifer Martinelli as the princess-guarding Dragon. Melissa Costa the Gingerbread “Gingy” Man and Princess Fiona’s mother, the Queen. Victor Velasquez as Pinocchio: Ensemble: Vanessa Alvarez, Kyle Arrouzet, Christina Bologini, Dan Cardenas, Seton Chiang, Jorge Diaz, Nique Eagen, David Evans, Ronald Feichtmeir, Gwyneth Forrester, Athena Hart, Katelyn Hughes, Kayvon Korestani, Cameryn Laird, Mylissa Malley, Katie Mazon, Sasha Motalygo, Sam Nachison, Jona Nicklin, Elena Panos, Tyler Pardini, Gwyneth Price, John Ramirez, Alea Selburn, Melina Smoker, and Katitlin Zablotsky.

CREATIVE STAFF: Director, Milissa Carey; Music Director, Rick Reynolds; Choreographer, Riette Burdick; Scenic Designer, Lynn Grant; Costume Designer, Julie Engelbrecht; Lighting Designer, Michael Ramsaur; Sound Designer, Andrew Heller; Production Supervisor, Bruce McLeod; Prop Design, Shirley Benson; Tap Choreographer, “Morning Person” Deb Leamy.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com.

L-R Shrek (Andrew Ross), Donkey (Nick Kendrick) and Princess Fiona (Jocelyn Pickett) share a meal in Shrek The Musical presented by Foothill Music Theatre, at Smithwick Theatre (12345 El Monte Rd., Los Altos Hills) July 20-August 6, 2017

Photo credit: David Allen