Shrek the Musical Blu-ray Review

Based on the novel by William Steig and the popular series of Dreamwork Animation films, SHREK THE MUSICAL tells the story of an Ogre named Shrek, the woman he comes to love and the many fairy-tale inspired denizens who live near him.  Sent from home at the age of seven, Shrek (d’Arcy James) lives happily in his swamp, away from civilization.  One day he is aghast to find that his land has been invaded by various “creatures,” among them Pinocchio (John Tartaglia), a wicked witch and most of the denizens from “Alice in Wonderland.”  Shrek learns that they have been cast out of their homeland, Dulac, by the evil Lord Farquaad (Christopher Sieber).  Intent on having his guests removed from his swamp, Shrek heads off to Dulac to talk to Farquaad.  Along the way he encounters a talking donkey (Daniel Breaker).  Hijinx ensue.

Shrek The Musical

To say I was disappointed in this production is an understatement.  The songs are very pedestrian…sadly the only “show-stopping” number is Neil Diamond’s “I’m A Believer,” which was used at the end of the first film.  One song, “Don’t Let Me Go,” actually sounded so much like a mash-up of “Take Me or Leave Me” and “I’ll Cover You” from “Rent” that I stopped the disc, brought up the songs on my iPad, and played them together.  Thankfully the majority of the songs are sung by Tony-award winners d’Arcy James and Foster, who bring energy to the production whenever they’re together on stage.  Sieber, who plays the diminutive Lord Farquaad as if he were channeling Tim Conway’s “Dorf” character, has fun with the role and, of all the fairy tale creatures, Tartaglia’s Pinocchio stands out among the others.  Sadly, the character that was most loved in the films, Donkey, is neither lovable or for that matter all that funny here.  Where he was played as a wise-cracking pal by Eddie Murphy on screen, here Breaker plays him as less funny and more annoying.  Maybe he was channeling Charlie Murphy?

Shrek The Musical

On a positive note, the set design and creative makeup is amazing, as are the many special effects.  Be it the talking magic mirror, the doomed Gingerbread man or a trio of Fiona’s singing high above in a castle tower, it’s obvious that no expense was spared to translate the story to the stage.  The character makeup is top notch, with each “creature” given special attention.  Pinocchio’s wooden nose grows before our eyes as does Princess Fiona’s transformation from beautiful girl to ogre.  And extra credit to Brian d’Arcy James, whose entire head is encased in makeup.  It appears that they have incorporated vents into his mask, hopefully giving him some relief from the hot lights of the stage.

Shrek The Musical

SHREK THE MUSICAL was nominated for nine Tony Awards, including Best Actor and Actress for Brian d’Arcy James and Sutton Foster.  It won one Tony Award for its costume design, a very well deserved award.  If you’re a fan of the novel or of the films, or if you want to see two of the best musical theater performers today at work, then give this one a look.  If not, rent the movie and enjoy!

SHREK THE MUSICAL BLU-RAY REVIEW

Video:  Presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the production jumps off the screen.  There are bright colors galore in use here and they all come to life in 1080p.

Audio:  Presented in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, the sound is cleanly mixed here.  Even when the audience applauds after songs not a word on stage is missed.

“Shrek the Musical” Songbook with Sing-Along:  Assembled in two parts, one offers the songs from the score while another offers the same song with subtitles so you can sing along.

From Swamp to Stage:  The Making of “Shrek the Musical” (8:06):  A look at the creative process hosted by Princess Fiona herself, Cameron Diaz.

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