Honestly, the image above speaks volumes.
I’m making a special exception for reviewing this musical even though it’s not animated, because it’s a musical rendition of an animated movie, and that counts, right?
First off, I need to re-establish the fact that I love the animated Shrek movies and I have loved them since I was a young’in. I loved, loved, loved Shrek and Shrek 2, didn’t care for Shrek the Third (the use of Paul/Linda McCartney’s and Wings’ Live and Let Die was excellent, though), and thought Shrek Forever After was alright – definitely better than the third movie, but nowhere near as good as the first two. And this appears to be the general consensus for the movie series as a whole.
Despite the lesser success of the latter two films, Shrek as a whole had enough of an effect on the American populace that it was made into a Broadway musical. I’m going to admit that I’m not too familiar with Broadway, besides my general knowledge that it is one of the premiere locations for stage actors. I have this general idea that if a work was good enough to have its own Broadway musical, it means something.
My high school drama organization actually featured its own Shrek: The Musical based on this broadway version. I have fond memories of working backstage during each and every showing, and I thought it was excellent.
I’m going to have to say, however, that this Broadway musical – the version of which my HIGH SCHOOL based its own play on – is not a good time. At least, not if you’re expecting something good. You may hate me for this if you are a fan of plays and/or Broadway, and I understand – this is just my opinion.
I’m gonna be real: I had all of the above already pre-written based on what I experienced during a previous viewing of this movie. I thought it was horrible.
On a re-watch, it’s actually not so bad. Still kind of bad, but more tolerable.
The movie is essentially a rehash of the animated movie with some additions/changes to some of the characters which would accommodate them with their own songs, or simplify their motivations into their own songs. Shrek, Fiona, and Lord Farquaad all have their own backstories, all in song form. You even get to meet Shrek’s parents.
You might be wondering, “If the musical is just the movie in song form, why don’t you like it?” I think it’s all about perception. As a high school play, I understand that the expectations are different compared to a Broadway musical (though I still love my high school play and thought it exceeded expectations). But it’s precisely because it’s a Broadway musical, which, I’ll admit, I’m not super familiar with – that I thought that the execution and production values would make the musical just as good in its own way as the movie. And while I think that is true for other people, it’s just not for me. It’s cheesier and silly and a bit more redonkulous (donkey pun) than the movie, and while it does nail the emotional bits for me, the ridiculous parts are ridiculous. And that kind of hurts the musical for me.
While I didn’t like the musical that much, that doesn’t mean anyone else won’t. It’s pretty popular, and has gotten some great reviews and honors. Again, it just wasn’t for me. It’s not a bad musical, but’s just not as good as the movie.
The musical is on Netflix if you want to give it a shot!