Theater Review: 'Shrek' Hits It Out Of The Park As Musicals At Richter Reaches A Milestone
DANBURY — Presenting a fairy tale like no other, Musicals at Richter has chosen Shrek The Musical for its 100th production.
Marking this impressive milestone with a lively, funny, and sentimental contemporary piece was a bold choice that pays off many times over. Directed by Lindsay O’Neill, the pacing, staging, and superb talent in so many roles results in another MAR production in the win column.
This is the story of an ogre named Shrek (Kevin Bielmeier). He wants to clear out the fairy tale squatters who have landed in his swamp following eviction from the town of Duloc by the tyrant Lord Farquaad (Roger Grace).
Shrek hits the road to have a word with the diminutive lord. Along the way, he encounters a donkey named Donkey (Teah Renzi), who is looking for a pal and an adventure. Donkey finds both in this ogre on a mission.
Lord Farquaad has learned of a Princess locked away in a tower for many, many years. Because he is completely unfit for the dragon slaying, moat crossing, and tower climbing required to rescue and marry the beautiful Princess Fiona (Emily Walsh), he enlists Shrek to undertake this task in exchange for having his swamp cleared of the trespassers.
Shrek and Donkey set off to find and save the princess, encountering all manner of silliness along the way. Rescuing the princess and delivering her to Lord Farquaad is more challenging than anticipated, as Shrek and Fiona realize they have a lot more in common than they had ever anticipated.
There is much to be sorted out in order to arrive at the place of happily ever after. This is all accomplished with a plethora funny antics, ludicrous characters, and really peppy music performed by some magical voices and a wonderful orchestra, the latter under the musical direction of Daniel Koch.
All lead roles are all played by talented actors. Mr Bielmeier’s Shrek is pugnacious, crass, sweet, and thoughtful in all the right ways. This actor pulls of the Shrek accent with remarkable accuracy and consistency, and like so many in this production, he has a great set of pipes.
His leading lady, Emily Walsh, is perfection as Princess Fiona. She sings like an angel and can do bawdy with the best of them. She is a skilled performer who completely captivates.
In the role of Donkey, Newtown resident Teah Renzi is all swagger, sass, and intrinsic compassion. She is lively and funny and has a wonderful voice.
The two younger Fionas — Madison Bielmeier and Abigail Rivas (also of Newtown) — were both fabulous as they sang their hearts out waiting for their prince to arrive, promising true love.
Roger Grace was a riot as the teeny tiny ruler of Duloc. He gave this physically demanding role all the right moves.
The big, red dragon guarding the princess was well-played by Fiona Bryson. She has a commanding voice and was a hoot when she became smitten with Donkey.
The large cast was colorfully and creatively costumed by Sarah Daleo as they gave this performance their all.
Congratulations to Musicals at Richter on another fabulous production in their spectacular location. With this 100th production, they continue to hit it out of the park.
Performances continue Friday through Sunday at 8 pm until August 10. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 students and seniors, and $15 for ages 10 and under.
There are also two Thursday evening performances, on August 1 and 8; tickets are $20, $15 and $10, respectively.
Grounds open at 7 for picnics, and curtain is at 8.
Audience members are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets for lawn seating. A limited number of chairs are available free of charge at the concession area, and a snack/soft drink concession is onsite. Musicals at Richter, at 100 Aunt Park Lane (adjacent to Richter Golf Course), can be reached at 203-748-6873 or musicalsatrichter.org for reservations and additional information.