Watching it, I was a bit sceptical because how do you cut down a film, introduce music and put it on stage without losing something? Well it seems Jill Girard and Keith Smith have found the right formula. This is, however, hardly surprising given that the pair have a wealth of experience in theatre productions.
The production is about an hour long, with a 15-minute interval in between, which makes it good for young children.
The production is a musical that’s punctuated with music that has been written for the show. The cast is also vocally strong. However, it is the vocal styling of Ayanda Sibisi, who plays the characters of Dragon and Mama Bear, that stands out. The piece that she does as the dragon is just wonderful to listen to, and even reminiscent of Jennifer Hudson’s award winning performance in the musical film Dreamgirls.
Luciano Zuppa as Shrek gives the production a warm fuzzy feel. He does not overdo the grumpiness of Shrek, which would make it over bearing if he did. He’s grumpy and uncultured enough for the audience to like him.
Megan van Wyk as Fiona would give Cameron Diaz, who voices the animated Fiona in the film, a run for her money. She embodies beautifully the strong minded - yet “I’m a princess” - character conflict of Fiona.
Robert Queiroz who plays Lord Farquaad must be commended. He plays the role of the miniature tyrant on his knees. Something that, I’m fairly certain, isn’t so easy to pull off. Also worth a mention is Sibusiso Mkhize, who plays the character of Donkey. Mkhize seems to have found the perfect balance of being full of life and borderline erratic as we expect the character of Donkey to be. He is an absolute pleasure to watch.
The children of the cast are also well trained, they know their lines and choreography and perform with such joy that you cannot help but have fun while watching them.
The film was adapted for the stage in the US, so that may explain some of the Americanisms that sneak in here and there.
In terms of the costumes, Lord Farquaad’s one is by far the most intricate, closely followed by the dresses worn by the three Fionas. Donkey and the Dragon’s costumes are also quite detailed. The wardrobe department got it right.
The set is built in such a way that it’s practical enough for the cast to move around on it and to depict the various locations of the story, which makes it great in that regard.
The dialogue is sufficiently grown-up to keep the older audience members entertained as well.
This production is a good effort and should prove to be an enjoyable outing for the kids these school holidays.
Shrek The Musical Jr runs till December 24 at the People’s Theatre in the Joburg Theatre complex.