WHAT “Shrek: The Musical”
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Thursday, June 2, Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, through June 25
TICKETS $15-$30; 631-928-9100, theatrethree.com
“Shrek: The Musical,” based on William Steig’s illustrated children’s book and the 2001 DreamWorks Animation, comes to Theatre Three with impressive pedigrees. David Lindsay-Abaire, who wrote the book and lyrics to Broadway’s “Shrek,” won the 2007 Pulitzer for drama with “Rabbit Hole.” Jeanine Tesori, who composed “Shrek’s” music, won the 2015 Tony for best original score with “Fun Home.”
As directed by Jeffrey Sanzel with vital contributions in choreography by Steve McCoy, music direction by Jeffrey Hoffman and costume design from an earlier CM Performing Arts production by Patrick Grossman, “Shrek” seems to anticipate the giddiness school-age kids feel about summer’s freedom. With a large supporting cast depicting fairy-tale characters intruding on Shrek’s swampy domain — not to be confused with darker visions in Stephen Sondheim’s marvelously cautionary “Into the Woods” — you’d be tempted to bring your little ones. Go for it. But one caveat: at 2½ hours, including intermission, “Shrek” may test the attention span of youngsters not accustomed to sitting quietly for an hour or so.
That said, there’s nothing to Shrek or his cohorts that should frighten any kid. As a green monster — he prefers the term “ogre” — he’s as inviting as the giant green wall at Boston’s Fenway Park is to batters. His bellowing voice, projected with counterintuitive warmth by Danny Stalter in the title role, has you rooting for the inevitable (spoiler alert!) happy ending (Neil Diamond/Monkees “I’m a Believer”).
We feel for the underdog ogre from the start, abandoned by his parents at 7 — the same age when Princess Fiona was clapped into the dragon’s keep until her true love can rescue her. Except Shrek and his compadre — a talking capital-D Donkey, played with impertinent charm by Bobby Montaniz — are rescuers-for-hire. They’re commissioned by Lord Farquaad, a stature-challenged heir to the throne who must marry to assume the crown. Matt Senese as His Shrimpness blows us away with his ardent delivery of ridiculously self-aggrandizing rhymes. Jenna Kavaler as Fiona strikes us, appropriately, as a damsel in need of a hero. She just doesn’t know one when she sees him.
The fairy-tale characters, led by Hans Paul Hendrickson as nosy Pinocchio, Amanda Geraci, voicing the Muffin/Gingerbread Man, and Corryn David, vocalizing the dragon (Heather Van Velsor/Frank Longo puppetry), remind us that we’re not in Kansas anymore. When did they make that left turn to Oz?