Shrek The Musical
Broadway Playbill cover
|Basis||2001 DreamWorks film and 1991 book by William Steig|
|Productions||2008 Seattle tryout
2010 US Tour
2011 West End
2014 UK Tour
2014 Germany Tour
2015 Buenos Aires
2015 Swiss-Austrian Tour
Shrek The Musical is a musical with music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire. It is based on the 2001 DreamWorks film Shrek and William Steig's 1990 book Shrek!. After a trial run in Seattle, the original Broadway production opened in December 2008, and closed after a run of over 12 months in January 2010. It was followed by a tour of the United States which opened in 2010, and a re-vamped West End production from June 2011. Since its debut, the musical's rights have been available for independent overseas theatres, who have chosen to stage their own versions of the show, starting with the 2010 Israel production.
- 1 History
- 2 Synopsis of the Broadway production
- 3 Musical numbers
- 4 Casts
- 5 Production references
- 6 Recordings
- 7 Reception
- 8 Awards and nominations
- 9 Home media
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Lindsay-Abaire and Jason Moore (director) began working on the show in 2002, with Tesori joining the team from 2004. A reading took place on August 10, 2007, with Stephen Kramer Glickman in the title role, Celia Keenan-Bolger as Princess Fiona, Robert L. Daye, Jr. as Donkey and Christopher Sieber as Lord Farquaad.
Seattle premiere (2008)
The musical premiered in an out-of-town tryout at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle. Previews began August 14, 2008, with an opening night of September 10. The tryout ran through September 21, and played to generally favorable reviews, being cited as one of the few movie-to-stage adaptations "with heart". The principal cast included Brian d'Arcy James as Shrek, Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona, Christopher Sieber as Lord Farquaad, Chester Gregory II as Donkey, John Tartaglia as Pinocchio and Kecia Lewis-Evans as the Dragon.
During previews, "I Could Get Used to This" was replaced by "Don't Let Me Go," and "Let Her In" became "Make a Move". Also during previews, a brief reprise of "Who I'd Be" was sung after Shrek overhears Fiona's misleading comment about being with a hideous beast, which led into "Build a Wall". This was cut and "Build a Wall" was placed after "Morning Person (Reprise)". "Build a Wall" was later cut during previews, but re-instated towards the end of the run.
Broadway production (2008–10)
After extensive changes were made, the show began previews on Broadway at The Broadway Theatre on November 8, 2008, with the official opening on December 14. The cast included Brian d'Arcy James as Shrek, Sutton Foster as Fiona, Christopher Sieber as Farquaad and Tartaglia as Pinocchio. Daniel Breaker took over the role of Donkey, as the creative team thought Chester Gregory II did not fit the part. The Dragon was voiced by company members Haven Burton, Aymee Garcia and Rachel Stern, instead of a soloist. Kecia Lewis-Evans, who played Dragon in Seattle, was offered a part in the show's ensemble but declined. Ben Crawford was the standby for Shrek, until he replaced d'Arcy James for the final months of performances.
Other changes the creative team made included the deletion of three songs: "The Line-Up", "More to the Story" and "I Smell a Happy Ending". "Story of My Life", "Build a Wall" and "This is Our Story" were added in their respective places. "Who I'd Be" changed from being a solo for Shrek, to a trio with Fiona and Donkey joining him towards the end.
The song "I'm a Believer", which was originally played as the audience left the theatre, was added to the score on October 2, 2009, and sung by the entire company at the end of the performance.
The Broadway production of the show received a total of twelve Drama Desk Award and eight Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical and acting awards for d'Arcy James, Foster and Sieber. The show won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical for d'Arcy James, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design and Costume Design for Tim Hatley, as well as the Tony Award for Best Costume Design for Hatley again. At the Tony Awards, the entire cast performed a section of "Freak Flag" for the opening number medley; later on, d'Arcy James, Foster and Breaker introduced Sieber and company, who performed "What's Up Duloc?". The cast recording of the show was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. The cast performed "I'm a Believer" at the Thanksgiving Day Parade 2009.
The Broadway production closed on January 3, 2010, after 441 performances and 37 previews. At the time, it was one of the most expensive musicals to open on Broadway, at an estimated $25 million, and despite generally good reviews, it failed to recoup its initial investment. The show was then extremely modified for the national tour.
US national tours
A national tour of North America began previews at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago, on July 13, 2010, with opening night on July 25. Rob Ashford is the co-director, as the Broadway creative team revised changes. The production marked the debut of an all-new Dragon. On the subject, set designer Tim Hatley stated "The biggest change [will be] the dragon. It will be a different creature from the puppet/soul trio on Broadway [but] I think we've finally gotten it right". The tour also features a new opening, new songs and improved illusions, from those on Broadway.
Many changes made for the tour include a new song sung by the dragon entitled "Forever", replacing "Donkey Pot Pie". Dragon is also voiced off-stage by a single vocalist, with four puppeteers controlling the movements of the new 25-foot puppet. The song would feature in all subsequent productions. Sets and props were re-designed to fit the tour, and certain music/lyrics and tempo's were re-written and re-defined. Also, to fit the revised storyline, "What's Up Duloc?" is placed before "I Know It's Today". The Magic Mirror was also cut.
The original touring cast featured Eric Petersen as Shrek, Haven Burton as Princess Fiona and Alan Mingo, Jr. as Donkey. Carrie Compere played the Dragon, with Blakely Slaybaugh as Pinocchio. The role of Lord Farquaad was first played by Todd Buonopane; after Buonopane's departure, David F.M. Vaughn—who was playing the Big Bad Wolf at the time and was first understudy for Farquaad—assumed the lead role. No explanation was given of Buonopane's departure. Petersen, Burton and Vaughn all understudied their roles on Broadway.
A second tour of North America, produced by NETworks and featuring a Non-Equity cast, launched September 9, 2011, at the Capitol Theatre in Yakima, Washington. Lukas Poost is Shrek, with Liz Shivener as Princess Fiona, André Jordan as Donkey and Merritt David Janes as Lord Farquaad. Also in the cast is Luke Yellin as Pinocchio and Kelly Teal Goyette as the Dragon.
The tour officially opened in Portland, Oregon on September 13, 2011. Changes made for the London production, including the new opening, will be incorporated into the tour (with the exception of musical number "Don't Let Me Go", which is still featured). The tour ran in the U.S. through April 29, 2012, with the final show in Springfield, Missouri, before playing Asia.
The second non-equity tour began October 5, 2012, in Anchorage, Alaska. The cast featured Perry Sook as Shrek, Whitney Winfield as Princess Fiona, Jeremy Gaston as Donkey and Christian Marriner as Lord Farquaad, with Courtney Daniels as Dragon and Tony Johnson as Pinocchio. This tour ended April 7, 2013, in Reno, Nevada.
West End production (2011–13)
A newly revised scaled down version, which included a new opening among other changes to appeal more to British audiences, began performances in the West End at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, on May 6, 2011. Nigel Lindsay headlined as Shrek, Richard Blackwood as Donkey, Nigel Harman as Lord Farquaad and Amanda Holden as Princess Fiona. Landi Oshinowo plays the Dragon, with Jonathan Stewart as Pinocchio. The official opening night took place on June 14, 2011. Most critics were positive about the production, and in particular praised Harman's performance, branding him "hysterically funny". The production extended its booking period through October 21, 2012.
As with the first US tour, the scenery follows traditional simple cloths [clarification needed] and less-complex sets as compared to those on Broadway. In the tribe of fairytale misfits, characters were changed to fit the UK audience. In order to shorten the running time of the show, the musical number "Build a Wall" was cut. "Don't Let Me Go" - which was initially written for the UK version with extra verses for Shrek to sing - featured in previews, but was removed before opening night: instead, the scene which depicts Donkey's arrival, is entirely spoken.
The show was nominated for a total of four awards at the 2012 Laurence Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical, Best Actor for Lindsay and Supporting Actor for Harman, as well as Best Costume Design for Tim Hatley. Harman won the award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical for his performance as Lord Farquaad. The ensemble cast performed "Freak Flag" at the awards.
Kimberley Walsh, of UK pop group Girls Aloud, took over the role of Princess Fiona from October 5, 2011, after Holden announced her pregnancy. Dean Chisnall and Neil McDermott took over from Lindsay and Harman as Shrek and Lord Farquaad respectively on February 29, 2012. Carley Stenson later took over as Princess Fiona from May 23, 2012.
On May 31, 2011, the cast performed "I'm a Believer" on Britain's Got Talent and on October 26, 2011, "Morning Person" on The Alan Titchmarsh Show. On December 26, 2011, the show made an appeared on a Christmas special of Jim'll Fix It hosted by Shane Ritchie, in which it granted nine year old Emma Bate from Kingston, Cambridgeshire her wish to appear in the show. In the show's third live televised performance, the cast performed "I Know It's Today" on This Morning, for the show broadcast January 6, 2012. On December 12, 2012, the closing cast sang the London company's cover of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" on This Morning, in the musical's second appearance on the daytime show.
The acclaimed London production of the show came to an end after 715 performances, on February 24, 2013. Producers have announced their plans to tour Shrek across the UK in 2014.
First national UK tour (2014–16)
Performances will begin at the Grand Theatre in Leeds, England on July 23, 2014, before touring across the UK and Ireland. Dean Chisnall is set to reprise his West End performance as Shrek, under the direction of Nigel Harman, who originated the role of Lord Farquaad in the West End. A full company announcement was made in February 2014, with Chisnall set to be joined by Legally Blonde star Faye Brookes as Princess Fiona, Gerard Carey as Lord Farquaad, Idriss Kargbo as Donkey, Candace Furbert as Dragon and Will Haswell as Pinocchio. With several still to be announced, the tour has announced dates through January 10, 2016, at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, Wales.
Shrek was made available for independent US and overseas theatres. They have chosen to stage their own versions of the show with the same music, book and lyrics intact and their own designs for sets, costuming and other creative elements. Productions have been staged in Asia, Poland, Spain, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Brazil, the Philippines, Estonia, Israel, Sweden, Panama, Denmark and an upcoming Argentinian production.
Synopsis of the Broadway production
- Act I
The story begins with an ogre named Shrek telling the audience of his childhood, and how, on his seventh birthday, his parents send him out of their house and into the world to make his living. They warn him that because of his looks, everyone will hate him, and he will not have a happy ending.
A few years later, an embittered, grown up Shrek is living contentedly alone in a swamp ("Big Bright Beautiful World"). However, his solitude is disrupted when a band of fairytale creatures show up on his property, including Pinocchio, The Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, a Wicked Witch, The Big Bad Wolf, Peter Pan, Ugly Duckling, Fairy Godmother, The White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, Sugar Plum Fairy, Tweedle Dum, and a Shoemakers' Elf. They explain of their banishment from the Kingdom of Duloc, by order of the diminutive Lord Farquaad, who exiled them for being freaks and will have them put to death if ever they return ("Story of My Life").
Even so, Shrek decides to travel to see Farquaad and try to regain his privacy, along with getting the Fairytale Creatures their homes back (but mostly to get his privacy back), with much encouragement from Pinocchio and the gang ("The Goodbye Song").
Along the way, Shrek rescues a talkative donkey from some of Farquaad's guards. In return for rescuing him, and in return offers his friendship, Donkey insists on tagging along to show him the way to Duloc ("Don't Let Me Go"), to which Shrek reluctantly agrees to, due to him being lost.
Meanwhile, in Castle Duloc, Farquaad is torturing Gingy the Gingerbread Man into revealing the whereabouts of other Fairytale Creatures that are still hiding in the Kingdom so he can have them arrested as well. They are interrupted by one of his henchman, Thelonious, who reveals that Farquaad's guards have acquired the Magic Mirror. Farquaad then sends Gingy to the swamp where he meets the Fairytale Creatures. The Mirror reveals that Princess Fiona is currently trapped in a castle surrounded by lava and guarded by a fire-breathing dragon. Farquaad decides to marry her to become king, and rushes out to prepare for the wedding before the Mirror can tell him what happens to Fiona at night. The Mirror then shows the audience the story of Fiona's childhood.
A seven-year-old Fiona dreams of the brave knight who, as her storybooks tell her, will one day rescue her from her tower and end her mysterious curse with "True Love's First Kiss". As she grows into a teenager, and then a headstrong woman, she becomes a little bit stir-crazy and bi-polar, but she never loses her faith in her fairytales ("I Know It's Today").
Shrek and Donkey arrive in Duloc where Farquaad expresses his love for his kingdom, accompanied by his cheerful cookie-cut army of Duloc Dancers ("Welcome to Duloc" / "What's Up, Duloc?"). They approach Farquaad, with him being impressed by Shrek's size and appearance. Farquaad demands that Shrek rescue Fiona, and in return, he will give Shrek the deed to his swamp ("What's Up, Duloc? (Reprise)").
The two unlikely friends set off to find Fiona, with Shrek becoming increasingly annoyed with Donkey as time progresses ("Travel Song"). After crossing the rickety old bridge and arriving at the castle, Shrek sets off alone to rescue Fiona while Donkey encounters a ferocious female dragon who initially wants to eat him, but then wants to keep him for her own after Donkey manages to charm her ("Donkey Pot Pie"/"Forever"). When Shrek finds Fiona, his lack of interest in playing out her desired, romantic rescue scene annoys her, and drags her off by force. The two of them reunite with Donkey and all three attempt to escape while being chased by the angry Dragon. Shrek traps Dragon and they get to a safe point ("This Is How A Dream Comes True").
Fiona then insists that Shrek reveal his identity and is shocked that her rescuer is an Ogre and not the Prince Charming her stories indicated. Shrek explains that he is merely her champion; instead, she is to marry Farquaad. The trio begin their journey back to Duloc, but Fiona becomes apprehensive as the sun begins to set. She insists that they rest for the night and that she spends the night, alone, in a nearby cave. Donkey and Shrek remain awake, with Donkey asking Shrek who he would be, if he did not have to be an ogre anymore. As Shrek opens up to Donkey on who he would wish to be, Fiona transforms into an Ogress as part of her curse that happens during sunset, stands apart, alone, and listens ("Who I'd Be").
- Act II
The next day, Princess Fiona rises early and sings with a bluebird and dances with a deer (before making the bird explode and throwing the deer off a cliff) and assists the Pied Piper in his rat-charming duties ("Morning Person"). Shrek brings down her mood by attempting to give subtle hints about her groom-to-be ("Men of Farquaad's stature are in short supply", "He's very good at small talk", etc.) and mocking her tragic childhood circumstances. The two begin a contest of trying to one-up each other to outdo the others' backstory, but end up revealing their respective pasts ("I Think I Got You Beat"). Both admit to being thrown out by their parents; this connection, as well as bonding over a love of disgusting bodily noises, kindles friendship.
Back in Duloc, Lord Farquaad plans his wedding, and he reveals his own sordid heritage after The Magic Mirror insists that Farquaad should invite his father, but Farquaad refuses, explaining how he abandoned him as a child ("The Ballad of Farquaad").
As Shrek and Fiona's newfound camaraderie grows into love, Donkey insists, with the help of the Three Blind Mice, that Shrek should gather his courage and romantically engage Fiona ("Make a Move"). Shrek, finally beginning to come out of his caustic, protective shell, tries to find the words to explain his feelings to Fiona ("When Words Fail").
While Shrek is out finding a flower for Fiona, Donkey discovers that Fiona turns into an ogress at night, and she confesses that she was cursed as a child, which is why she was locked away in the tower. Only a kiss from her true love will return her to her proper form, and she asks Donkey to promise never to tell. Shrek arrives near the end of the conversation and misunderstands Fiona's description of herself as an ugly beast, to which he thinks she is talking about him. Hurt by her presumed opinion, Shrek storms off.
The next day, transformed back to her human form, Fiona decides to tell Shrek about her curse ("Morning Person (Reprise)"). When Fiona tries to explain, Shrek rebuffs her with his "ugly beast" overhearing, causing Fiona in turn to misunderstand. During the night, Shrek goes and tells Lord Farquaad where he, and the Princess are. Farquaad then arrives to claim Fiona and tells Shrek he has cleared the swamp of the Fairytale Creatures, and now belongs to Shrek again.
And while not very impressed with Farquaad, Fiona agrees to marry him and insists that they have the wedding before sunset. As Farquaad and Fiona ride back to Duloc, Donkey tries to explain the misunderstanding to Shrek (who is too angry to listen), and Shrek rejects him as well, declaring that he will return to his swamp alone and build a wall to shield himself from the world ("Build a Wall").
Meanwhile, the Fairytale Creatures now head for a landfill which is to be their new home, since they have been evicted from the swamp. After dealing with the fact that Shrek broke his promise to them, they start agreeing that Farquaad's treatment of them is intolerable; Just because they are freaks does not mean they deserve to be hated, and start deciding on doing something about it. But a bitter Pinocchio (remembering they are not allowed back in the Kingdom, or they will be executed), not wanting his friends to get hurt, suggests they should just keep going, and wait until everything blows over; all the while, wishing to be a real boy. The gang convince Pinocchio that they need to stand up to Farquaad, while also inspiring him to accept who he is, as all of them have accepted who they are. They gather new confidence and strength in themselves, as they declare that they'll raise their "Freak Flag" high against their tormentors ("Freak Flag"). Now realizing that they have become something more than friends; but have become a family, Pinocchio and the gang, prepare to go to Duloc and stand up to Farquaad, once and for all.
Shrek has returned to his once again, private swamp, but he misses Fiona. Donkey shows up attempting to seal off his half of the swamp with stone boulders, which Shrek rebuffs. In turn, Donkey angrily berates Shrek for his reclusive and stubborn habits, even to the point of driving off Fiona. An angered Shrek reveals he heard her talking about a hideous creature the night before, and Donkey retorts that they were not talking about him, but of 'someone else'. When a confused Shrek inquires who it was, Donkey, wanting to keep his promise, and still cross with Shrek, refuses to talk. When Shrek apologizes, and extends his friendship, Donkey forgives him. The two then go back to Duloc, to which Shrek interrupts the wedding before Farquaad can kiss Fiona, and Fiona convinces him to let Shrek speak with her. Shrek finally finds the words to express his feelings for Fiona, and he declares his love for her ("Big Bright Beautiful World (Reprise)"). However, his declaration of love is mocked by Lord Farquaad. Caught between love and her desire to break the curse, Fiona tries to escape the event.
Just then, the Fairytale Creatures storm into the wedding and protest their banishment. They are accompanied by Grumpy, one of the Seven Dwarfs, who reveals that he kicked Farquaad out at the age of 28 when he wouldn't move out of the basement, revealing Farquaad is a freak, as well. During the argument, the sun sets, causing Fiona to turn into an ogress in front of everyone. Farquaad, furious and disgusted over the change, orders that Shrek be killed and Fiona banished back to her tower. As Farquaad proclaims himself the new King, Shrek whistles for the Dragon, who has now escaped the castle (and is the reason Shrek and Donkey got to the wedding in time). Dragon then crashes through the window with Donkey and incinerates Farquaad with her fire breath.
With Farquaad dead, Shrek and Fiona admit their love for each other, and share true love's first kiss. Fiona's curse is broken and she takes her true form: an Ogress. At first, she is ashamed of her looks, but Shrek declares that she is still beautiful. The two ogres begin a new life together (along with Donkey, and the Fairytale Creatures), as everyone celebrates what makes them special ("This Is Our Story") and all live happily ever after ("I'm A Believer").
≠ Not included on the original Broadway cast recording. "I'm a Believer" however, was recorded later and released as a single as it was not in the show when the cast recording was made.
•Beginning with the first North American tour, a new song was written for the Dragon, "Forever". This was then performed in all subsequent productions.
≠ Cut before opening night in the West End. Reinstated for the UK Tour.
- "Big Bright Beautiful World" - Storytellers, Mama Ogre, Papa Ogre, and Shrek
- "Story of My Life" - Captain of the Guards, Pinocchio, Wicked Witch, Peter Pan, Ugly Duckling, 3 Pigs, Mama Bear, Big Bad Wolf, and Ensemble
- "What's Up, Duloc? (Part I)" - Duloc Dancers
- "What's Up, Duloc? (Part II)" - Lord Farquaad and Duloc Dancers
- "What's Up, Duloc? (Reprise)" - Lord Farquaad and Duloc Dancers
- "I Know It's Today" - Young Fiona, Teen Fiona, & Adult Fiona
- "Travel Song" - Donkey, Shrek, and Ensemble
- "Forever" - Dragon, Knights, and Donkey
- "Morning Person" - Fiona, Pied Piper, and Ensemble
- "I Think I Got You Beat" - Fiona and Shrek
- "Make a Move" - Donkey, Shrek, Fiona, and Ensemble
- "Morning Person (Reprise)" - Fiona
- "Freak Flag" - Gingy, Mama Bear, Pinocchio, Ugly Duckling, Big Bad Wolf, Baby Bear, and Ensemble
- "Big Bright Beautiful World (Reprise)" - Shrek
- "Finale" - Fiona, Shrek, Donkey, Mama Bear, Pinocchio, Gingy, Ugly Duckling, Wicked Witch, Big Bad Wolf, 3 Pigs, and Ensemble
- "I'm a Believer" - Fiona, Shrek, and Ensemble
·All songs significantly shortened from the Broadway version.
The original principal casts of the English-speaking AEA productions.
|Characters||Seattle||Broadway||Filmed Broadway Performance||U.S. Tour||West End||U.K. Tour|
|Shrek||Brian d'Arcy James||Eric Petersen||Nigel Lindsay||Dean Chisnall|
|Princess Fiona||Sutton Foster||Haven Burton||Amanda Holden||Faye Brookes|
|Donkey||Chester Gregory||Daniel Breaker||Alan Mingo, Jr.||Richard Blackwood||Idriss Kargbo|
|Lord Farquaad||Christopher Sieber||David F.M. Vaughn≠||Nigel Harman||Gerard Carey|
|Pinocchio||John Tartaglia||Blakely Slaybaugh||Jonathan Stewart||Will Haswell|
|Dragon||Kecia Lewis-Evans||Haven Burton,
|Carrie Compere||Landi Oshinowo||Candace Furbert|
|Gingy / Sugar Plum Fairy||Haven Burton||Aymee Garcia
(as Mama Bear)
|Alice Fearn||Nikki Bentley|
- Puss in Boots makes a silent cameo appearance during the "Travel Song". He tips his hat to Shrek and Donkey and walks away. Later, a bunny screams after Shrek calls him delicious. A cow jumps over the moon, and a dish runs away with a spoon, while being pursued by the police. Shrek and Donkey later see a giraffe and gazelles which look like the gazelle wheel in The Lion King (an excerpt from "Circle of Life" plays during this part of the song).
- As with the 2001 film, Shrek ends the song "Travel Song" with "That'll do, Donkey, that'll do"; this is a reference to the similar phrase in the film Babe, in which Hoggett reassures "That'll do, Pig. That'll do."
- King Harold and Queen Lillian originally sang a part during "Big Bright Beautiful World," explaining to Young Fiona that all ogres are monsters unloved by everyone. Now they walk past Young Shrek, taking Young Fiona with them. She waves at Shrek, but they lead her away (the guards preceding them give the impression that they are taking Fiona to her tower). This was later cut out of the Broadway production. A similar part was re-introduced for the national tour and London productions.
- In "I Know It's Today" and "This is How A Dream Comes True," Fiona sings "Are you there, God, it's me, Fiona?" which is similar to the book entitled "Are You There, God, it's Me, Margaret" by Judy Blume.
- In "Morning Person," much of the part where Fiona dances with the mice is reminiscent of the nightclub scene in Bob Fosse's "Sweet Charity."
- Most of the spoken lines are taken from the first film, including the Muffin Man scene between Farquaad and Gingy, and Fiona explaining the curse to Donkey.
- "Welcome to Duloc" is the only original song from the film sung in the musical. It is sung by the Duloc Dancers, who resemble the puppets that sing it in the film.
- Originally the orchestra played "I'm a Believer" after the curtain call, but as of October 2, 2009, it is sung by the entire company at the end of the performance.
- At the end of "What's up, Duloc?", Lord Farquaad references Defying Gravity from the Broadway musical Wicked, when he sings "...and no ones gonna bring me down!" followed by the famous ending note. Also, the oft-repeated line 'Hey-nonny-nonny-nonny-no' is taken from the song "Shy" from Once Upon a Mattress.
- At the end of "Forever", the Dragon's final line is a reference to the Dreamgirls song "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going". In some adaptations of this song in later productions, the Dragon performer appears alongside the puppet (in previous performances, the performer sang off-stage.) During "Kiss", Whatnaught the Squrriel and Raccoon played the nutshell bongos and regular bongos, similar to Sofia the First and My Friends Tigger & Pooh.
- Julie Andrews, who played Queen Lillian in Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, and Shrek Forever After, provides the voice for the audio instructions before each performance that reminds the audience to turn off their cell phones, the use of recording devices is forbidden, etc. and "if you refuse, a terrifying ogre will leap from the stage, lift you from your seat, and drag you far, far away."
- During "Story of My Life", one of the show's musical numbers, Mama Bear sings "Mama's in the mud, Mama's in distress," which is a nod to the song "Rose's Turn" from the musical Gypsy.
- During "Freak Flag" a flag is waved around with a face on it, which resembles the famous logo of young Cosette from Les Misérables.
- During a part of "Don't Let Me Go" on the national tour, Donkey sings to the music of "Take Me or Leave Me" and "I'll Cover You" from Rent.
- During "What's Up, Duloc?," the ensemble reference the musical Chicago.
- During a part of "Don't Let Me Go" original Broadway recording, Donkey makes reference to "Part Of Your World" from Little Mermaid.
- Donkey sings to Shrek "Don't speak, don't speak, don't speak," referencing Dianne Wiest and John Cusack in "Bullets Over Broadway."
- The opening of 'Who I'd Be' is reminiscent of "Bring Him Home" from 'Les Misérables.
"I'm a Believer" is also not featured on the recording as it was only added to the score on October 2, 2009. Instead, it was released as part of a Highlighted Cast Recording, released on November 17, 2009, and is also available to download via iTunes, as is the song "More to the Story", sung by Fiona, which was cut from the final Broadway production.
"Donkey Pot Pie" (which is included on the show's cast recording) was later replaced by "Forever" for the national tour and all subsequent productions. The song became available on iTunes in 2011. It was recorded during a live performance of the national tour in Chicago, and features Carrie Compere (Dragon) and Alan Mingo, Jr. (Donkey).
The original London cast recorded a single of "I'm a Believer" for promotional purposes. The full music video can be found on the official YouTube channel. In fall 2012, the final London cast led by Carley Stenson (Fiona) and Dean Chisnall (Shrek) recorded a cover single of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" as a tribute to the holiday season.
An original Spanish-language cast recording featuring the Madrid cast was recorded between August and September 2011, and released in September. The Spanish album includes later added songs "Forever" and "I'm a Believer", as well as different orchestrations to the Broadway recording and the arrangements made for the national tour.
The musical received mixed to positive reviews from critics. Ben Brantley wrote in The New York Times: "'Shrek,' for the record, is not bad.... As the title character, a misanthropic green ogre who learns to love, the talented Mr. James is... encumbered with padding and prosthetics.... As the evil, psychologically maimed Lord Farquaad, the very droll Christopher Sieber is required to walk on his knees, with tiny fake legs dangling before him — an initially funny sight gag that soon drags". He praises Sutton Foster as "an inspired, take-charge musical comedian.... Ms. Foster manages both to make fun of and exult in classical musical-comedy moves while creating a real, full character at the same time."
Variety noted that the production had a reported budget of $24 million. Any "theme-park cutesiness is offset by the mischievous humor in David Lindsay-Abaire's book and lyrics. The production's real achievement, however, is that the busy visuals and gargantuan set-pieces never overwhelm the personalities of the actors or their characters. The ensemble is talented and the four leads, in particular, couldn't be better."
The Associated Press said that "the folks at DreamWorks have done their darndest to make sure we are entertained at Shrek the Musical, the company's lavish stage adaptation of its hit animated movie. For much of the time, they succeed, thanks to the talent and ingratiating appeal of the show's four principal performers. The show's massive sets and colorful costumes (both courtesy of Tim Hatley) are so visually eye-catching that they often distract from what's going on with the story and score. Composer Jeanine Tesori has written attractive, eclectic, pop-flavored melodies that range from a jaunty 'Travel Song' to a gutsy duet called 'I Got You Beat' for Shrek and Fiona that revels in rude noises." The review also noted that Lindsay-Abaire's lyrics are often fun and quite witty.
USA Today gave the show three and ½ out of four stars, writing: "Shrek, which draws from William Steig's book about a lovable ogre and the DreamWorks animated movie that it inspired, is nonetheless a triumph of comic imagination with a heart as big and warm as Santa's. It is the most ingeniously wacky, transcendently tasteless Broadway musical since The Producers, and more family-friendly than that gag-fest." The review also noted, however, that "Like other musical adaptations of hit films, Shrek... leans heavily on winking satire. There are the usual nods to more fully realized shows, from Gypsy to A Chorus Line, and Jeanine Tesori's blandly ingratiating score doesn't feature any songs you're likely to be humming 20 years from now."
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
Original London production
|2012||Laurence Olivier Award||Best New Musical||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Musical||Nigel Lindsay||Nominated|
|Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical||Nigel Harman||Won|
|Best Costume Design||Tim Hatley||Nominated|
In October 2009, Jeffrey Katzenberg said that a performance of the Broadway production had been recorded for a potential DVD release. However, due to the national tour and West End productions running considerably longer, the idea was put on-hold. On July 19, 2013, following the closure of the national tour and West End productions, Amazon.com confirmed that the filmed performance would available for instant viewing on September 17, 2013. It also became available "in HD for playback on Kindle Fire HD, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Roku or other HD compatible devices" beginning October 15, 2013. The home video release is also available on Netflix Streaming as of January, 2014. A DVD, Blu-ray, and digital download was also released on that day. The performance is an edit of several live performances as well as a performance shot without an audience. The original principal cast appear, as well as various alumni across the show's Broadway run.
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