For the uninitiated patron, like myself, who had never heard of “Shrek” before reading the billboard outside of Holy Heart, you should know that the show is a song-and-dance stage adaptation of a DreamWorks film featuring an amiable ogre, Shrek (Justin Goulding), and his garrulous, equine companion, Donkey (Jeremy Wells).
The odd couple set out on a crusade to rescue a beautiful princess from a fire-breathing dragon, in a fairy-tale realm populated by elves and fairies and a large contingent of characters like Pinocchio (Lennie Earle), the Big Bad Wolf (Simon Alteen), Humpty Dumpty (Rebecca Druken) and a statuesque, female dragon, elegantly represented by Megan Barnes.
It culminates, as fairy tales must, in a happily ever after conclusion, with the gentle ogre edging out the egotistical and height-challenged Lord Farquaad (Nicholas Mandville, playing on his knees) and winning the hand of Princess Fiona (Adena Cahill).
The large opening-night audience, with a substantial component of family and friends of the student cast, was highly appreciative of an imaginative, stage-filling show, a musical quest in the manner of the better known “Wizard of Oz,” featuring more than 50 talented performers.
Colourful costumes are highly appealing and worn with aplomb. Dancing and singing are of high quality. These enthusiastic and committed young performers have real presence.
“Shrek” features a bright and upbeat musical score. None of the songs, I think, have transcended the show to become hits in the popular domain, but they are nevertheless serviceable and satisfying.
While enjoying the production, in common with the rest of the audience, I have one caveat.
On opening night, some of the dialogue was over-projected on individual headsets; and this was accentuated by the fact that singing, dialogue and music were technically over-amplified, sometimes to uncomfortable acoustic levels.
On occasion, my forefingers went to my ears — and I was near the back of the house.
Dialing the levels back might be worth considering.
Directed by Justin Goulding, with musical direction by Carl Goulding, the Etcetera Productions presentation of “Shrek: The Musical” continues at the Holy Heart Theatre until Saturday, starting at 8 p.m. and, with one intermission, closing with an exuberant curtain call at 10:35.
Tickets are $35.