Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

Shrek The Musical

Also see John's review of Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol

Lukas Poost, Andre Jordan
and Liz Shivener

The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County and Broadway Across America, together with NETworks Presentations, LLC and DreamWorks Theatricals present Shrek The Musical. Based on the story and characters from William Steig's book "Shrek, as well as the DreamWorks Animation film, the musical features book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori.

William Steig was named the "King of Cartoons" by Newsweek. He remains The New Yorker's longest running contributor, boasting more than 117 covers and 1,600 drawings. His work on "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble" earned him the Caldecott Medal, the highest honor bestowed upon a children's book. Steig was still illustrating and writing children's books up until his death in 2003 at the age of 96.

Shrek The Musical tells the story of a swamp-dwelling ogre who goes on a life-changing adventure to reclaim the deed to his land. Joined by a wise-cracking donkey, this unlikely hero fights a fearsome dragon, rescues the feisty Princess Fiona, and learns that real friendship and true love aren't only found in fairy tales.

While Lukas Poost and Liz Shivener are enjoyable as Shrek and Fiona, Merritt David Janes steals the show as the pint-sized villain Lord Farquaad. Playing it for high camp is assisted by humorous prop details like the false armor-clad legs on his horse. Luke Yellin as Pinocchio and Andre Jordan as the ever-energetic Donkey have strong moments as well. Special effects and puppetry combine in genuine artistry in the creation of the Dragon. It is one of the best things in the show.

This production is packed with creative costuming and make-up, and an admirable use of puppetry. Though the film from which the musical is taken is humorous, it seems to be a bit watered down on stage, and the length of the show may have you looking at your watch. Somewhere along the line Shrek loses some of his charm. The intent of the show is admirable none-the-less, with the strong message of not judging a book by its cover strongly driven home by songs such as "Freak Flag" and "This Is Our Story." Admittedly, this is not a musical that knocks it out of the park, however. There are some fun moments, but no melodies that linger; a musical like this desperately needs a signature song.

Writer David Lindsay-Abaire received two Tony Award nominations for his work on the book and lyrics for Shrek The Musical. Prior to that he was awarded the 2008 Ed Kleban Award as America's most promising musical theatre lyricist and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play Rabbit Hole, which also received five Tony Award nominations. His other shows include Fuddy Meers, Kimberly Akimbo, Wonder of the World, High Fidelity and A Devil Inside.

Composer Jeanine Tesori has written four Tony-nominated scores for Broadway: Twelfth Night, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Caroline, or Change, and Shrek The Musical. She was cited by ASCAP as the first woman composer to have two new musicals running concurrently on Broadway. She has also composed songs for the movie Disney DVD releases Mulan II, Lilo and Stitch II and The Little Mermaid III, and the film scores for Nights in Rodanthe, Winds of Change, Show Business and Wrestling With Angels.

Broadway Across America - Miami is presented in arrangement with the Florida Theatrical Association, which is a non-profit, civic organization with a volunteer board of trustees established to ensure the continued presentation of quality national touring Broadway productions in the state of Florida. Broadway Across America is dedicated to creating memorable and accessible theatrical experiences for all guests, selling over five million tickets to first rate Broadway shows, family productions and other live theatrical events in over 40 North American cities each year. For more information or to purchase tickets through an authorized agent, please visit

Shrek The Musical appeared December 6-11, 2011 in the Ziff Ballet Opera House at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. The Arsht is located at 1300 N. Biscayne Blvd., Miami, Florida, and houses the 2,400 seat Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House, as well as the 2,200 seat John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall, and the 300 seat Carnival Studio Theater. For information, or to purchase tickets for the many diverse offering of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, you may contact them at 305-949-6722, or visit them online at For more information on the tour, visit

The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County is made possible by the public support of t he Miami-Dade County Major and the Board of County Commissioners, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, and the Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council. It also receives generous support from private and corporate contributions to the Performing Arts Center Foundation of Greater Miami through it's Membership Program, the City of Miami Omni Community Redevelopment Agency, the Dade Community Foundation, The MAP-Fund, the Sate of Florida, the Department of State, the Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Shrek: Lukas Poost
Princess Fiona: Liz Shivener
Donkey: Andre Jordan
Lord Farquaad: Merritt David Janes
Pinocchio: Luke Yellin
Papa Bear: Willie Dee
Ugly Duckling: Annie Fitch
Witch: Susan Leilani Gearou
Mama Ogre/Mama Bear/Dragon: Kelly Teal Goyette
Papa Ogre/Big Bad Wolf: Adam Steiner
Sugar Plum/Gingy/Teen Fiona: Schuyler Midgett
Young Fiona/Young Shrek/Dwarf: Alexa Kerner
Young Fiona/Young Shrek/Dwarf: Rachel Khutorsky
Pig: Lyonel Reneau
Pig: Ryan Everett Woods
Pig: Chris Woods
Fairy Godmother: Erin Sullivan
Peter Pan: Chase Todd
Shoemaker's Elf: Sarah Tranchina
Baby Bear: Nadia Vynnytsky

Direction: Jason Moore and Rob Ashford
Music Director: Kevin Casey
Choreography: Josh Prince
Scenic/Costume/Puppet Design: Tim Hatley
Lighting Design: Paul Miller
Sound Design: Shannon Slaton
Make-Up Design: Naomi Donne
Hair/Wig Design: David Brian-Brown
Stage Manager: Caroline Walker

Photo: Joan Marcus

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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