ACMO goes green in 'Shrek the Musical' spring production

Katie Pryor
Arts & Culture Editor

Move over, Cinderella and Snow White. In DreamWorks Pictures’ 2001 animated hit “Shrek,” the prince was anything but charming, the princess turns into a monster, a talking donkey was a waffle-making noble steed and a green ogre was the hero. It was so popular that it was eventually made into the Broadway musical, “Shrek the Musical,” which was this year’s spring production for Millersville University’s All-Campus Musical Organization.

ACMO’s “Shrek the Musical” ran March 19-22 in the Clair Performance Hall in the Winter Visual Performing Arts Center and was directed by Justine Helbert. It follows the film almost directly, though with plenty of magical songs by David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori peppered in as well. Set in a mythical “once upon a time” sort of land, it tells the story of a hulking green ogre (Seth Sponhouse) who, after being mocked and feared his entire life by anything that crosses his path, retreats to a swamp to exist in happy isolation. One day, however, a gang of homeless fairytale characters raids his sanctuary, saying they’ve been evicted by Lord Farquaad (Mark Rissmiller), a ruler with a Napoleon complex.

Shrek, with the help of the talkative Donkey (Joey Bertoni), strikes a deal with the egotistical Lord: he’ll give the fairy-tale characters their homes back if Shrek rescues Princess Fiona (Kelly Milligan), who has been locked away in a tower guarded by a real diva of a dragon (voice of Katie Dobson). Though Shrek succeeds in rescuing the elusive and beautiful princess, they quickly develop a romance of their own.

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The production of “Shrek the Musical” is full of color, pep and special effects, from puppetry to bring the Dragon and Gingy (voice of Skye Hewish-Schmid, who also played Tinkerbell) to life, smoke effects and fairy-tale settings to the vibrant lighting and the charming, ragtag costumes of the banished fairytale creatures such as Pinocchio (Willow Peluso), the Ugly Duckling (Rikki Etter) and the cross-dressing Big Bad Wolf (Zach Wishnefsky).

The songs were fun as well, from the toe-tapping showtunes “Story of My Life,” “What’s Up Duloc” and “Travel Song” to the dramatic love song “When Words Fail,” the hilarious “Ballad of Farquaad,” the jazzy “Make a Move” (Donkey dancing with the Three Blind Mice, believe it or not) and the Motown-esque “Forever.” In addition to all the magic and funny gags, especially during “Travel Song,” there were also a few sentimental moments, though the show never took itself too seriously. It was a show for the young, the old, and the kids at heart.

The cast was fabulous as well, and everyone, both the stars and the ensemble, got a chance to shine in the production. Sponhouse as the grumpy Shrek, Milligan as the sassy Princess Fiona and Bertoni as the hyper Donkey were the driving forces in the musical and had great chemistry between each other. Rissmiller was hilarious and flamboyant as Lord Farquaad, stealing every scene he was in despite (or perhaps because of) his small presence. Dobson gave a show stopping turn as the Dragon, especially with her belting performance of “Forever.” Even the ensemble, such as Lord Farquaad’s Duloc dancers in “What’s Up Duloc,” the Dragon’s dancing skeletons in “Forever” and the fairytale characters in the pieces “Story of My Life” and “Freak Flag” filled the stage with energy during their respective musical numbers.

Overall, the spring musical “Shrek the Musical” proved to be another energetic and imaginative show from ACMO. ACMO also has a benefit concert coming up later in the semester.