Talent across the board is the highlight of the Cowichan Musical Society’s Shrek The Musical.
Stars Graham Brockley as Shrek, Brenna Bazinet as princess Fiona, and Ryland Racicot as Donkey all bring great energy and excellent singing voices to their roles. They also bring a lot of heart and warmth to this show that will entertain the entire family.
Bazinet has a particularly lovely moment with (in alternate shows) Ainsley Fraser and Ella McQueen as young Fiona, and Caidence Burns and Lauren Racz as teen Fiona in ‘I Know It’s Today’, a number that highlights that being a princess isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
And in this sea of talent James Meyer as Lord Farquaad manages to give a standout performance that could be straight off of a Broadway stage. From his vocals to his comedy, he hits the mark every time, owning the stage, delivering several showstoppers that drew spontaneous rounds of applause on opening night. His talent will blow you away. Keep an eye out for this young performer who has a very promising future ahead of him, and who will surely make you laugh as the villain of the piece in Shrek.
Also delivering are Jennifer Cleough, Jazmyn Mari and Holly Thomas as the dragon in the dark bluesy number ‘Forever’ that was particularly enjoyable.
There is a large supporting cast of fairy tale characters and dancers, including a tap crew, who combine for some big musical numbers that are fun and energetic. On opening night there were some glitches with microphones that marred a couple of the supporting character solos in some of these numbers, but I have no doubt this will have been fixed for future shows. The performers dealt with the technical difficulties with professionalism and aplomb.
One of the strengths of the script is that it effortlessly combines clever dialogue that will amuse adults, with fart jokes that will have the kids grinning. The story has become a modern classic. Ogre Shrek agrees to rescue princess Fiona from her tower, guarded by a dragon, so that she can marry Lord Farquaad so he can properly become king. Shrek is joined on his quest by Donkey. They successfully rescue the bored princess, who harbours a secret, and Shrek and Fiona fall in love on their return journey. It all ends happily ever after, of course, after some soul searching and a lesson on what constitutes true beauty.
On opening night, the audience leapt to its feet immediately, giving a good indication of how successful the show is as an entertaining evening out.
The show continues at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on Feb. 3 through 5, including a matinee. But don’t wait to get tickets; judging from a packed opening night and what’s sure to be good word of mouth, they’re going to go fast.