“Shrek” is a title that many young people would recognize — who isn’t familiar with that misunderstood, lovable green ogre? After all, it is a 2001 DreamWorks film that captured the hearts of young and old alike and spawned three successful sequels. The Palo Alto High School stage production “Shrek the Musical Jr.,” aimed toward children, maintains the charm of familiar characters from “Shrek” with the addition of an entertaining musical element.
Directed by Paly parent Tony Kienitz, the musical follows a truncated but similar storyline to the movie: Shrek, an ogre, reluctantly embarks on a journey with an enthusiastic Donkey to save Princess Fiona so she can marry Lord Farquaad. After Shrek completes this task, he can have his swamp back.
The show is full of musical numbers, dancing and eclectic characters. The jokes in the musical are obviously directed at a kid’s sense of humor—there is a variety of the classic name-calling, fart jokes and other general goofy and hilarious dialogue.
Each cast member of the musical does a wonderful job at appealing to a younger audience. Freshman Gil Weissman as Donkey strikes the ideal balance between annoying and humorous. Lord Farquaad, played by freshman Robert Vetter, is one of the most well-casted characters of the production and has the most creative costume in the show. Shrek (junior Declan Flanders) is as grumpy as ever and Princess Fiona (junior Alia Cuadros-Contreras) is a more complex character than one would initially expect from a narcissistic princess.
The musical aspect of the production is satisfying. Two standout songs from the production are “Story of My Life” and “Finale,” because they both feature the cast’s eclectic mix of characters. The set and costumes both work well within the show. Many characters wear fake stomachs and noses, and Shrek’s costume is extremely reminiscent of the film version. Face paint is used to color the faces of several fairytale characters.
During a showing on Thursday with an elementary school audience, everyone seemed to be laughing and having a good time though the young audience’s attention ebbed and flowed. In the middle of the play, it was easy to tell that the kids were getting restless. At the conclusion of the show, however, the children erupted in roaring applause, with some even offering a standing ovation.
Some technical difficulties during the show inhibit enjoyment. The microphones didn’t work throughout almost the whole show, making the singing and funny lyrics hard to hear.
“Shrek the Musical Jr.” is a show that delivers lighthearted entertainment that is perfect for children but also appropriate for those who have already graduated elementary school. The characters will take you back to memories from the original “Shrek” movie and the tunes will be stuck in your head for hours.
The show lasts a little over one hour and 10 minutes. “Shrek the Musical, Jr.” premiered on Oct. 2, and there will be two showings on Sunday, Oct. 4 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the door and online and cost $5 for students and children and $10 for adults.