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(Posted 10:30 p.m., Feb. 27)

'Shrek the Musical' the latest in a long line of wonderfully entertaining St. Peter productions
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The St. Peter Players' production of 'Shrek the Musical', featuring Cole A. Harrison Priddle as Shrek and Lindsay White as Princess Fiona, will run until ths Saturday in the auditorium of St. Peter High School on Charlemagne Blvd. Fred Sherwin Photo

Over the years the St. Peter Players, otherwise known as St. Peter Musical Theatre, has gained a reputation for staging top flight musical productions. Past efforts include "Les Miz", "The Little Shop of Horrors", and "Grease".

This year the group has taken on the quirky and tremendously entertaining "Shrek the Musical", and judging by the opening performance on Wednesday night, it will only enhance their already stellar reputation.

The St. Peter production has it all -- top flight vocalists accompanied by the extremely talented St. Peter student orchestra; wonderful choreography; plenty of humour, and above all else, a talented cast assembled by drama teacher and St. Peter Musical Theatre director Bernard Leger.

Pretty much every musical you will ever see lives and dies with its lead vocalists. In the case of the St. Peter production of "Shrek the Musical" you can't get much better than Lindsay White, who plays Fiona, and Cole A. Harrison Priddle, who plays Shrek.

Whether they're singing solo, as a duet, or backed up by the rest of the ensemble cast, White and Priddle are phenomenal. Among the highlights during Wednesday night's performance were Priddle's solo "When Words Fail" and his reprise of "Big Bright Beautiful World" in Act II.

Other highlights include "I Know It's Today" performed by young Fiona (Rebecca Brake), teen Fiona (Megan Barbeau) and adult Fiona (Lindsay White) in Act 1; and White's second act reprisal of "Morning Person".

But the vocal talent among this year's St Peter Muscial Theatre company runs much deeper than just the two leads. Blair Plummer as Lord Farquaad, also impressed me, as did Rebecca Atkinson who plays the Dragon.

Moreau was equally impressive as Donkey, especially given the fact he spent the entire play with a donkey mask covering much of his face. Donkey is the main comedic conduit in Shrek, brought to life in the movie and various sequels by the legendary Eddie Murphy. It's a tough role to live up to, but Moreau pulls it off wonderfully.

There are so many good things to say about this latest St. Peter production I'm worried that I might leave something out.

The depth of the cast really shines through during the ensemble numbers and then there's the absolutely amazing tap routine which I believe is a first for a St. Peter musical production.

I should also make mention of Lydia Brownrigg who plays the wicked witch and whose ear-splitting cackle is a highlight on to itself. If Brownrigg ever wants to reprise her role in an upcoming production of "The Wizard of Oz" she need only send in a recording of that laugh to land the part.

The storyline pretty much follows the original movie with Shrek agreeing to rescue Princess Fiona from a tower that is protected by a fire-breathing dragon, in exchange for getting his swamp back from a cast of fairytale characters who have been branded as freaks and exiled from the kingdom.

He sets out his quest with Donkey who he reluctantly allows to come with him. As Donkey distracts the dragon, Shrek rescues Princess Fiona from the tower and tells her shes to marry a prince.

On the way back to Lord Farquaad's castle, the audience finds out that Fiona turns into an ogress at sunset. Apparently, a curse was been placed on her when she was young and it can only be broken by true love.

Donkey also discovers Fiona's secret, but promises not to let Shrek in on it. As the three friends make their way back to the castle, Fiona and Shrek fall in love during a burping match of all things. But when Shrek overhears Fiona describing herself as ugly, he mistakingly thinks she's talking about him and gets angry with himself for ever falling in love with a princess.

Once at the castle, Fiona, still upset with Shrek, tells Lord Farquaad that she wants to get married that very night. Shrek interrupts the proceedings just as Fiona and Farquaad are about to kiss and convinces her to her him out. After he professes his undying love for her, the sun sets and Fiona transforms into an ogress. The two then share a kiss and the curse is broken. Together they live happily ever after, along with the fairytale characters and, of course, Donkey.

"Shrek the Musical" is chalk full of great songs. Among my favourites were "This Is How A Dream Comes True" sung by White, Priddle, Moreau and Atkinson; Moreau's solo performance of "Don't Let Me Go", and the fairytale characters singing "Let Your Freak Flag Fly", when they decide to stand up for themselves against Farquaad.

"Shrek the Musical" is a three hour long extravaganza with an important message that it's alright to be different (just as long as you don't mind short jokes). And at $10 a ticket, it is well worth the price of admission whether you've seen the movie or not.

The production continues in the auditorium at St. Peter High School for the next three nights. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and curtain time is 7 p.m. To view more pictures of the play follow this link.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

 

 

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