Thursday, March 3, 2011

How Green Was My Ogre

(Dragon and Donkey [Alan Mingo, Jr.] in the touring production of "Shrek: The Musical." Photo by Joan Marcus.)

Sometimes dashed expectations can be a many-splendored thing. It was anticipated that the road company of "Shrek: The Musical" would be cast in the template of a made-in-Tijuana souvenir of the wildly successful animated mint-green ogre, who has starred in four films. But, no. The creators and the company have conspired to disappoint. Instead of a slavish recreation, they have opted for artful transformation. Whereas the movie deliriously quoted a litany of past Disney animations, the stage version chooses to goose a passel of musicals, ranging from "Gypsy" and "Beauty and the Beast" to "Wicked," with every spoof hitting its mark. Blissfully, at PlayhouseSquare there is no trace of a second-rate touring cast or a shoddy production. For indeed it is all rendered and colored with the zest of a Mardi Gras.

For those interested in such trivialities as the score, do not worry. There's not an  iota of Hasbro elevator music. Composer Jeanine Tesori, who wrote the wonderful "Caroline, or Change," has once again displayed her limitless imagination, giving us music full of unexpected tunefulness skillfully blended with lyricist David Lindsay-Abaire's PG wit and innuendo. They have given us a work as saucy as any British panto and as infectious as any musical of the Golden Age of television, i.e. Jule Styne's "The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood."

It's hard to conceive of any living human unable to experience joy from the evening's proceedings. However, it occurs to this scribe that there are a few fictitious and deceased curmudgeons who may raise objections. For instance...

(Senator Joseph McCarthy: "That dragon looked pretty RED to me.")

(Mary Martin: "Leading ladies may fly or do cartwheels, but they may not pass gas.")

(Popeye: "It may be green, but it ain't got any spinach.")  
(Walt Disney: "Don't fuck with fantasy.")

(Jack Benny: "Well!")

(Mao Zedong: "Imperalist stooge ogre!")
(Ethel Merman: "Honey, in my day, a real star would never wear a mask or paint her kisser green.")
But don't take the word of a bunch of jealous stiffs seriously. There have been multitudes of shows featuring stars who in reality were ogres. How many chances do you get to see a show about a genuine ogre who happens to be a sweetheart?

"Shrek: The Musical" runs at PlayhouseSquare through Sunday, March 13. For tickets, call 216-241-6000.

No comments:

Post a Comment