The big green ogre on the great white way
Loves: Fun musicals
Dislikes: Most movie to stage adaptations
Hates: How few broadway shows are on home video
Of course, Broadway keeps finding suckers to invest (read this story for one of the most amazing stories about fools and their money) and movies to adapt, and in 2008, it was Shrek's turn. A ton of money was sunk into bringing the ogre's animated world to the stage, and though the money could all be seen on-stage, and the show received a number of award nominations (and even a few wins) a year later, the doors closed and no profit was to be had, But unlike so many shows that come and go, lost to history outside of a random local production, Shrek has received a home-video release, so there's no real financial or convenience concerns preventing you from giving the show a chance.
As this is a musical though, many songs had to be added to fill out a run-time worthy of Broadway prices. With the wonderful Foster on-board, Fiona gets the biggest and best solos, such as the tremendous song-and-dance "Morning Person," adding both humor and heart with her performance,, while James lends his substantial pipes to a number of spotlight songs, like the excellent first-act finale "Who'd I Be." The real stand-outs though are the ensemble pieces, featuring Avenue Q's John Tartaglia, with "Story of my Life" and "Freak Flag" being the most memorable. Though technically solid and well-performed, there's not much here you'll be humming in the days after watching, with the possible exception of Breaker's Motown-ish "Make a Move."
The songs may not be as memorable as some shows, but the way creative solutions were made for translating the film to the stage, under the guidance of original director Jason Moore (Avenue Q, Pitch Perfect), resulted in an incredible display of technical prowess and creativity, from the rotating and elevating, partitioned center stage that helped depict the story's road trip scenes to the massive dragon puppetry, and the many interesting ways practical special effects were integrated in between. So much is happening on-stage that its hard for the cameras to capture it all, but the almost informal presentation, which is marked by occasional shaky hand-held camera work, makes it feel even more in-the-moment. This show may not have set Broadway on fire, but it's entertaining enough to be worth a look if musicals are your thing.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio is quite impressive for the majority of this, giving the cast's voices just the right heft and clarity in the center channel, while the music and audience reaction lives in the surrounds, giving you an in-the-moment feel (with a bit of oomph from the low-end in a few spots.) Though the crowd gets a bit loud in places, that's pretty representative of many live performances. The only moment that's an issue is in the finale performance of "I'm a Believer," which sounds tinny and distorted, but as the characters are supposed to be singing into microphones, this may be an intentional effect.
"From Swap to Stage: The Making of Shrek the Musical" (8:06) is hosted by the original Fiona, Cameron Diaz, and gives you a brief overview at how the stage show came together through interviews, clips and behind-the-scenes footage that illustrate the story, the songs and choreography, as well as the changes from the film to the stage, mainly through directors Moore and Rob Ashford's thoughts about the show.
The disc wraps with six Dreamworks trailers and a quartet of short musical clips from Dreamworks animated films.
The Bottom Line