Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Their current presentation is an eight-cast member version of Shrek The Musical, book and lyrics by David Linsday Abaire, music by Jeanine Tesori. It is hard to assess if the Broadway production was a hit or miss, running 464 performances and just over one year. It certainly has been popular in regional and community theater in both its original and Jr. versions, with kids still loving multiple Dreamworks films featuring the characters.
The original source material almost demands a whimsical slant, so why not take it one or two steps further? These guys aren't big budget, but with major talent (many of whom I have enjoyed in our various community theaters) the choice of material is an inspired one. I had not seen the musical before this production, despite productions all over. Mostly I enjoyed it, with its many bright and catchy songs, a few that are fiendishly clever, and only in two crucial areas do I feel the authors let us down, just when we want our emotions most in sync with Shrek's.
Each of the major roles is covered by a single actor or actress, and they also take on several ensemble parts, along with those who inhabit multiple roles with great poise. Shrek is played by Cory Woomert, one of my favorite local performers whom I have watched develop into a major talent. This is one of his most memorable undertakings; he brings great emotional depth to our ogre hero.
Princess Fiona is played by Alyssa Goudy, who does not appear on local stages nearly as often as I would like, because of her managerial responsibilities at The Players Centre for Performing Arts. She is as always terrific, with a deep motherly/womanly take on this role. She has her zany moments, but this aspect of the character is not her strongest.
Lord Farquaad is played by choreographer about town Brian F. Finnerty. I hope his knees are OK after the run. The Donkey is played by Derric Gobourne Jr., who has been featured in many productions at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. Besides his dancing, not surprising since this has always been his calling card, his singing is solid and his comic abilities in this role first voiced by Eddie Murphy are excellent. Note to Nate Jacobs, Artistic Director of WBTT: its time to move Mr. Gobourne out of the dancing ensemble, even when he is featured, into parts with more stature. He is ready to become a star.
Noella Altamirano, Amanda Heisey, Luke Manual McFatrich, and Jamie Molina make up the ensemble. They are all really wonderful as various fairytale characters (Ms. Heisey as Pinocchio, Ms. Molina as The Sugar Plum Fairy, Three Blind Mice, and multiple pigs). Javisha Strong and Raina Khatani are extra singers but do not appear.
As if their energetic performances are not enough Mr. McFatrich directs and Mr. Finnerty choreographs.
David Walker designed and assembled the costumes that manage to mostly hide the lack of budget. Tim Wisgerhof, on loan from Venice Theatre, painted a three-panel backdrop that does a great job projecting the spirit of the piece.
It has been a long time since I have seen a show with more than an approximation of a band, but even without that yearning, the ensemble under Michelle Kasanofski is fantastic. Mikal Mancini is on second keys, Joel Broome is at the drum kit, and Judah Woomert is on guitar with added vocals from him and Ms. Kasanofski.
The first weekend performances sold out, and tickets are going fast for the final weekend. Perhaps they will be able to extend one more weekend.
Dingbat Theatre Project presents Shrek The Musical, through May 15, 2021, at The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime, 821 Apricot Ave, Sarasota FL. For tickets and information visit dingbattheatre.org
Cast in Alphabetical Order: