“Ogres are Like Onions…” A Look at the Reimagined Shrek The Musical at Shea’s

The Basics: SHREK The Musical at Shea’s Performing Arts Center located at 646 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14202. For tickets: or Box Office 716 847 0850. Production runs May 16-19th, 2024.

Thumbnail Sketch: Your favorite ogre, Shrek from DreamWorks Animation’s beloved 2001 film, is back and on stage in a hilarious musical. Shrek finds himself on a life-changing journey alongside a wisecracking donkey and a feisty princess. Tony Award-winning duo Jeanine Tesori (music) and David Lindsay-Abaire (book) revisit their first collaboration, revising and updating the original 2008 Broadway show. SHREK is a colorful, joyful show that leans into the humanity in all of us, celebrating our differences and emphasizing the importance of loving ourselves and one another.

Runtime: Approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes, one intermission.

The Players, The Play, And The Production: They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or ogre in the case of Shrek The Musical. It’s a “big, bright, beautiful world,” and we are along for the ride. Shrek, our rude, crude dude, leads a cast of well-known fairytale misfits on an adventure to rescue a princess and find true acceptance. Part romance and part twisted fairy tale, Shrek is an irreverently cheeky, fun show with a powerful message for the whole family.

SHREK The Musical has been delighting audiences since it opened on Broadway in 2008. Starring Brian d’Arcy James in the title role, Sutton Foster as the fiery Fiona, Christopher Sieber as Lord Farquaad, and Daniel Breaker as Donkey, the show had a successful run for a little over a year. I saw it on Broadway about ten times; the cast was sublime, and you left the theater feeling joyful and uplifted. I have been a fan of Mr. D’Arcy James, Miss Foster, and Mr. Sieber since each of them started out their careers. This was a dream cast for me. Since its closing, Shrek the Musical has gone on to captivate audiences in the West End, on National Tours, and Broadway on demand. I have not seen a production since the Broadway version, but my expectations were high for this production.

On Tuesday night, our fellow native Western New Yorkers streamed through the doors of Shea’s to enjoy the big green guy we know and love (not the Incredible Hulk). This time, he is singing, dancing, and cavorting to the same silly, over-the-top musical numbers from the original Broadway show, but this show has been altered from what I had previously seen. The theater, of course, was littered with some kids, but way more adults, many were donning their Shrek or Fiona ears—much to my amusement; the theater was certainly abuzz with anticipation.

The crowd went nuts with great fanfare for Shrek when he appeared in his green glory. The staging was noticeably different from what I remember, and a small orchestra that was kind of hidden behind a piece of scenery was somewhat muffled. Before my companion pointed out the conductor’s shoulder peaking out, I thought it was a prerecorded track. I noticed at the last special engagement tour of Jesus Christ Superstar in April that the sound quality of that show and this one were obviously poor, especially to someone like me that goes to a lot of shows. I was annoyed by it frankly, but most of the audience didn’t seem to mind at all.

Upon further research, I found that at the start of the tour, creators Tesori and Abaire felt the show needed to be updated. They decided to make it fresh for the newer generations of theater lovers. This change not only came with just new staging, but a new mediocre set, some new costumes, new choreography, and even new writing. Several lines were updated, and several characters were tweaked to make them more relatable and less “offensive.” It was a kinder, gentler, and less funny version in my opinion. Several characters were also revamped or done away with to accommodate the new staging and overall concept of the show. Shrek’s ogre parents, as well as young Shrek and young Fiona who were played by actors previously, are now using creepy puppets or ventriloquist heads with ensemble members voicing them. It felt oversimplified and dumbed down for my taste.

The largest change that was the hardest to accept was Farquaad’s height. I do understand the reasoning behind changing this, and after the initial reaction, I didn’t mind the change. Christopher Sieber performed the show with much glee and great effect.


FIVE BUFFALOS: Exceptional quality – a rare rating. Whether it’s a hilarious comedy or a touching drama, if this is your kind of show, missing out would be a mistake! 

FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of exceptional quality. If the genre and content match your preferences, it’s worth seeing. 

THREE BUFFALOS: Despite minor drawbacks, it’s a solid production and a pleasant evening at the theater. Keep your expectations in check, and you’re likely to have a good time. 

TWO BUFFALOS: If you’re a self-proclaimed theatre enthusiast who simply adores attending shows, go ahead and give it a try. However, if the genre and themes don’t resonate with you, you might want to explore other options. 

ONE BUFFALO: This might not be the best choice for everyone unless you have a compelling reason to attend, like having family or friends involved in the performance. It’s probably a good idea to skip this one.

The post “Ogres are Like Onions…” A Look at the Reimagined Shrek The Musical at Shea’s appeared first on Buffalo Rising.

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