Shrek – The Musical

Stanton Troupe 3929 and The Multicultural Club presented “Shrek – The Musical,” for three performances during March 13 – 15 at Theatre Jacksonville.

While Stanton is nationally renowned for academic excellence, many theatre fans in the Jacksonville area know the school also has a fine theatre program that consistently produces and stages interesting and exciting events throughout the school year.

Shrek was a very successful 2001 movie that as adapted into a stage musical by Pulitzer-prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire, with music by Jeanine Tesori. The musical debuted on Broadway in 2008, where it ran for twelve months. A road show version made a brief stop in Jacksonville in 2011, and Stanton quickly snapped up the rights when it became available for community and professional theatres.
Stanton’s production under the direction of Shirley Sacks, was an absolutely wonderful two hours of pure entertainment from a cast of some forty-four energetic and inspired students.

A brief reminder of the story goes like this: Shrek (Nick Kirby), a big, green, anti-social ogre, is joined by a talkative, hip, but somewhat needy donkey (Kelly Davis) as he goes on a quest to rescue Princess Fiona (played as an adult by Jessica Williams and as a youngster by Cassidy Spencer). Shrek has made a deal with Lord Farquaad (Christian Merado) to deliver Fiona to him so the two can be wed. In exchange, Shrek will receive the deed to his home in the swamp and can evict the exiled fairytale characters, led by Pinocchio (Riley Bean) and Gingy (Leighton Baruch) who have invaded the swamp and are disturbing his solitary life. Shrek falls in love with Fiona but must first contend with the red dragon (Netta Walker).

There are twenty some songs in the show and they move the story along, are snappy, and are at times very funny. Everyone knew the grand finale number “I’m a Believer,” a great finish for this show. The fairytale creatures had their big number in Act II with “Freak Flag,” a song wonderfully choreographed by Candance Cook Leonard. The entire stage was filled with characters that included Humpty Dumpty (Hannah Mendillo) The Three Blind Mice (Monica Rosales, Emily Hart and Desia Bacon), Peter Pan (Zach Rhodes), Wicked Witch (Katie Mackin), Big Bad Wolf (Charlie Vancini), White Rabbit (Spencer Puentas), Dwarf (Avery Garrett), Pied Piper (Shannon Phelan), Shoemaker’s Elf (Isabella Martines), Mama Bear (Jill Responte) The Three Little Pigs (Jenna Levine, Jaclyn Lawrence and Kristen Oliver) and Papa Bear (William Leonard).

One of our favorite characters was played by Christian Mercado as Lord Farquaad. The role was challenging, as he did the entire show on his knees with toy legs hanging in front, making him look about four feet tall.

The leading characters sang very well, accompanied by the excellent orchestra with Director Ellen Milligan and Jonah Pierre on keyboards, and Tony Steve on percussion.

The set by Shirley Sacks, Jeff Leonard, and Karl Rogers included a very leafy green swamp for Shrek, and a large castle exterior for Farquaad with impressive stained glass windows.

The costumes by the Director and Lee Hamby were colorful and it was obvious that Stanton went to great expense in the selection of the visually delightful attire.

Kudos to Guest Make Up Artist Jake Gianforerti for all those faces of many shapes and colors. Kudos as well to Stage Manager Matt Ubl and his staff for keeping this show running so smoothly.

Note: Shrek has left town but won’t be gone long as The Alhambra Theatre and Dining will be presenting the musical this summer.

This is a show that truly entertained both adults and children with its clever dialogue. It is a spoof on a fairytale that really works. Stanton with its talented students and teachers and its enthusiastic Drama Boosters has once again created a remarkable and enjoyable evening of theatre.

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.