Shrek: Ugly, crude, and proud of it

Autumn Ness and Reed Sigmund.

Autumn Ness and Reed Sigmund.

The musical version of Shrek has always been a "meh" proposition for me. Sure, there are laughs, a few good songs, and a solid message about being true to yourself. Then again, you can find those in the original book and film, and neither of those require a special night out to enjoy.

Leave it to the Children's Theatre Company to wring a winner out of Shrek onstage. The delightful production features impressive work from top to bottom, from Kate Sutton-Johnson's fairytale sets to Denise Prosek's pinpoint musical direction.

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[jump] Best of all, we get Reed Sigmund and Autumn Ness as Shrek and Princess Fiona. As individuals, they bring out not just the comedy of the roles, but also all of their flaws and foibles. The pair, who are a couple off the stage as well, have tons of chemistry together, which makes you really root for them to get together (even though we all know they will in the end).

The secondary characters get their due as well. Ansa Akyea makes the strutting and talkative-to-the-point-of-annoying Donkey his own, while Adam Qualls makes the best of his moments as the short-of-stature Lord Farquaad. The same goes for Lauren Davis, who brings the fiery Dragon to roaring life.

Director Peter Rothstein takes these strong individual performances, melds them with the hard-working chorus (who, along with other roles, each get to play displaced fairytale characters and the robotic denizens of Duloc), and gives the whole show an endearing vibe that makes Shrek the Musical a strong and entertaining reason to get out of the house.


Shrek The Musical
Through June 15
Children's Theatre Company

2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis

For tickets and more information, call 612.874.0400 or visit online.