The 39th season of Upper Darby Summer Stage visits the enchanted land of ogres, talking donkeys, princesses, and other fairytale creatures with their production of SHREK THE MUSICAL. SHREK is based on the Dreamworks animated movie and book by William Steig, about the ogre who finds acceptance, friendship and love.
One thing you can always count on with this company is a solid production with excellent production values, and SHREK is no exception. Director Dawn Morningstar has assembled a talented cast, and keeps the action flowing with little time for the audience to lose interest. Choregrapher Jenn Rose has the cast moving beautifully, with a particularly impressive tap number by the “Rat Tappers”, with Fiona and the Pied Piper. Musical Director Gina Giachero has the cast and orchestra sounding beautiful. And then, there is the cast…
SHREK has a very large cast, and in many summer productions this might be a problem. Not so with Upper Darby…everyone, from the leads to the knights, guards, etc, are talented and spot-on. In the title role, Patrick J. Walsh handles the prosthetics and padding very well, and shows off his vocal talents beautifully. Meghan Dietzler almost steals the show as Fiona, her comic skills on a par with her vocal and dance ability. Devon Fields (Donkey) also shows great comic depth, and an amazing flexibility dancing in a donkey suit. Chris Monaco (Farquaad) spends much of the evening on his knees, and his vocal and comic flexibility has the audience enchanted. The dragon, skillfully brought to life by 4 very active actors, is given a gorgeous voice by Ali Caiazzo. And on and on…this deep and skilled cast has a lot to be proud of.
The actual script of SHREK is sometimes silly, sometimes a bit weak, but the cast (and more importantly, the audience) don’t care…they commit to the silliness, embrace the weakness, and enchant the audience, especially of the younger ones in attendance. As a piece of theatre, it has received mixed reviews since its original production…as a piece of live entertainment, it is glorious, with a timeless moral, a charming story, and (even with non-traditional characters) heroes and villains to delight in.
The Upper Darby Summer Stage offers young performers the opportunity to work with professional directors, technical staff and musicians. It also appears to be quite a bonding experience, as evidenced by the number of alumni in the audience on opening night. Gather up the family and head to Upper Darby to see this fine production, and come to appreciate the work of this organization.
SHREK THE MUSICAL
Musical based on the Dreamworks Animated Motion Picture and book by William Steig
Book and Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, Music by Jeanine Tesori
Directed by Dawn Morningstar, Music Direction by Gina Giachero
August 1-10, 2013
Upper Darby Summer Stage
601 N Lansdowne Ave
Upper Darby PA 19026