photos by Shannon Struttmann
|Nathan Nelson as Shrek; |
Lovar Davis Kidd as Donkey
As I was watching the musical, one thing that became clear to me was the difficulty in putting a new spin on something so cemented in the media - unless the new artist is willing to forego the recognizable qualities that are the purpose for the show’s creation. If one were to make new choices, it wouldn’t be the same story, with the same characters, and the audience would not be getting what they expect and desire to see when purchasing tickets for a show based on their favorite animated film. Imagine if Shrek had a French accent, if Lord Farquaad was on stilts instead of his knees, if Fiona was a brunette. Absolutely shocking and all wrong!
This is most difficult with the character of Shrek. The audience expects Mike Myers and anything short of him is automatically compared to that highest standard. So, what I looked for was if that guy was having fun. The good news? He was. Nathan Nelson (Shrek) had sporadic moments of jerky gesturing, and his voice wasn’t a powerhouse, but his presentation was more than adequate and the character the audience knows and loves was evident in his portrayal. His delivery was honest and you could tell Nelson had a lot of love for his character. However, my favorite song, “Who I’d Be,” which closes the first act, fell a bit flat for me. I love the poetry of it, the honesty within it, the simple dream of acceptance… but the song was rushed and Shrek seemed uncomfortable at times, unable to reach the power I crave in those moments when the character is so vulnerable, self-consciousness, and the rest of the world, just goes away.