It was opening weekend for Omaha Community Playhouse’s rendition of “Shrek The Musical,” a family inclusive experience with audience interactive moments and a sing-along finale. The crowd was packed with children holding handmade paper flags, which were to be waved during “Freak Flag” and individuals ready to relive the beloved Pixar movie. The production began with the origin of Shrek and Fiona in “Big Bright Beautiful World” where the parallels between their stories added a nice touch to the exposition.
From the moment the spotlight was placed on her, Mackenzie Dehmer, playing the role of Fiona, completely stole the stage. Her bright vibrant and sometimes loud personality perfectly matched the true reality of impatience and boredom of a princess being locked in a tower for her life waiting for a prince.
The first ensemble number, “Story Of My Life,” along with all of the others throughout the show, brought high energy and animated facials that really captured comradery of the citizens of Duloc, the setting of the neighboring kingdom. Pinocchio, played by Justin Dehmer, with excellent vocals and flair, acted as the perfect leader of the castaways of Duloc. A quick round of applause to the costume crew for the believable growth of Pinocchio’s nose every time he uttered a lie.
Donkey, played by Jordan Smith, was the best source of comic relief for the production. With his witty comebacks and impromptu dance moves, he caught the hearts of the children with loud laughs. Not to mention, his vocal range rung out to the tops of the theater with power and precision.
Shrek, played by Steve Krambeck, had an amazing portrayal of the feared ogre of the swamp with the trademark accent and added flatulence humor. Once the trio of Shrek, Fiona, and the Donkey joined forces, the production finally felt as if it was gaining speed. The dynamic and chemistry shared between the group fed off the audience’s energy and really pushed the narrative forward with a strong end to the first act with “Who I’d Be” and burping battles in “I Think I Got You Beat.”
The clever way of portraying Lord Farquaad, played by J. Isaiah Smith, as a short king added another comedic element as he danced across the stage on his knees and rode in “high and mighty” on a horse to retrieve Fiona for marriage. Smith’s flamboyant gestures and expressions reflected his cunning and mischievous actions to win status within Duloc.
One character in particular had the audience screaming loud at the end of her number. Kerri Forrester, acting as the Dragon, showcased soul and intense vocals during “This Is How A Dream Comes True.” This specific number’s energy continued to build until the very last long belt sung by Forrester. The costumes, the orchestra, the ensemble, and the lighting. Everything was in place and working in tandem during the song.
As Fiona transforms into her true form after kissing Shrek, the finale songs really create the perfect ending for the production. With a sing-along version of Smash Mouth’s “I’m A Believer,” the cast received an instant standing ovation with claps and cheers.
The production ran seamlessly with the help of the backstage crew, the makeup and costume team with quick changes, the lighting, sound, and set to create the mood of the swamp, and the music from the orchestra. “Shrek The Musical” is a light-hearted show that is perfect for anyone of all ages, especially for those looking for a laugh and runs until Oct. 14.