Theater preview: Shrek the Musical

Heather Gross, Columbus Alive
Joan Marcus photo

To see a show by a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, head to the Ohio Theatre for "Shrek the Musical." That's right: "Shrek." Who says a musical based on a film about a not-so-jolly green ogre and a talking donkey can't be high-quality entertainment?

"It's not all fluff when you've got a writer of that caliber," said Liz Shivener, who plays Princess Fiona in the touring production that's visiting town next week. "He knows what he's doing."

Playwright David Lindsay-Abaire keeps intact all of the semi-edgy comedy dished out by Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers in the movie. Some of the humor is aimed at kids, but a good share of it isn't.

"The kids really love Donkey because he's goofy and falls down all the time," Shivener said. "Then there are characters like Lord Farquaad. Some of his humor is very adult, and it flies over the kids' heads and gives the adults something to laugh at."

The plot is similar to the original "Shrek" movie's: the grumpy loner ogre Shrek has to leave his home in the swamp to help the fairy-tale creatures that have been exiled by the evil Farquaad. Ultimately, this leads to his saving Princess Fiona from her imprisonment in a castle tower, and once she embraces her true form, the two live happily ever after.

But in the play, you get a little more insight into the psyches of classic fairy-tale characters.

"In the film, Pinocchio and the Gingerbread Man and the Three Little Pigs come in and have little vignettes, and then they're forgotten," explained Shivener, a Reynoldsburg native and Otterbein alumna. "In the show they have a song and you get to see more about what their life was like."

And seeing an animated movie you enjoyed back in the day adapted for the stage can be fun.

"It's kind of a kick to see something from your childhood actualized in front of you," Shivener said. "It doesn't fall into the trap of kids show and solely family entertainment."

Ohio Theatre

Jan. 10-15

39 E. State St., Downtown