Cardinal Music Productions Makes Staging Shrek Seem Effortless

ShrekThere are so many wonderful one-liners in Cardinal Music Productions latest show Shrek The Musical, that it’s nearly impossible to choose just one moment. If I was hard-pressed to choose just one, I might have to go with Pinocchio’s priceless “I’m wood. I’m good. Get used to it!” That statement alone shows how the 30-year-old story is slightly modernized and brought to life in vibrant colours in this wonderful production.

With more than 25 performers, it’s a big show to pull off. And with even grander musical numbers, it requires a talented group to successfully pull off. For Windsor’s Joe Cardinal (Shrek) and crew, the task seemed almost effortless as they brought the audience from swamp to tower and finally to Duloc for an outrageous romp through the famed fairy tale world.

With so many pop culture movies being adopted into musicals, the market for these shows keeps growing, but Shrek is a little bit different from all the rest. Based on the 2001 blockbuster musical inspired by a 1990 fairytale picture book of the same name by William Steig, Shrek creates its own universe surrounded by all the fairy tale creatures we’ve all grown up with. From Pinocchio and Peter Pan to various fairies, animals and witches, along with Gingy (the lovable gingerbread cookie who knows The Muffin Man), it’s a pop culture dream come true.

Never having seen the musical before, the majority of the music was new to me. Besides the loveable What’s Up, Duloc? and the classic I’m A Believer, it’s all original songs made for the musical version.

ShrekThe story is based on the 2001 DreamWorks Animation film Shrek, along with elements of sequels Shrek 2 and Shrek Forever After, giving the show a very fulfilling storyline. Set in a mythical “once upon a time” sort of fairy tale land, Shrek The Musical is the story of a green ogre who retreats to a swamp to exist in isolation. Out of nowhere, a gang of homeless fairy-tale characters raid his sanctuary after being evicted out of Duloc by Lord Farquaad, a greedy ruler who is obsessed with becoming a King. Shrek befriends a comedic talking donkey and they strike a deal with Farquaad to give Shrek the deed to his swamp… if he rescues Princess Fiona from a locked tower guarded by a dragon.

The Cardinal production is magical in many ways. The audience reaction to the characters and costumes was something to behold, especially the children, who loved seeing the animated character come to life. Joe Cardinal was meant for the role of Shrek in every way – he’s such a loveable and memorable character that it takes a master (like Mike Myers in the movie) to pull it off. I never knew Cardinal had so much Shrek in him. No wonder he wanted to redo the show he originally presented in 2014.

Along with Aaron Bergeron as Donkey, and Nina Fasullo as Fiona, the trio made the show seem effortless. A tip of the ogre ears goes out to Drew Beaudoin who was phenomenally funny as the stunted Lord Farquaad, having to bend on his knees for most of the show. The loveliest part of the show belonged to Regan White who had multiple roles, but glowed as the voice and puppeteer for Gingy, who was presented on a large tin-foiled cookie sheet.

You can’t go wrong with a classic story like Shrek and when the production comes to life with care and attention like this one, it’s a joy to watch.

Shrek continues at The Green Room Theatre in Windsor this Friday through Sunday (Feb. 14-16) and then moves to Migration Hall in Kingsville for four shows from Feb. 21 to 23. For more information on tickets, visit http://www.cardinalmusicproductions.com/.

Cast:

  • JOE CARDINAL as Shrek
  • NINA FASULLO as Fiona
  • AARON BERGERON as Donkey
  • DREW BEAUDOIN as Lord Farquaad, Papa Ogre
  • KOEN KAVANAUGH as Lillie Fiona, Ugly Duckling
  • ALICIA BRAY as Teen Fiona, Elf
  • REGAN WHITE as Ginger Bread Man, Sugar Plum Fairy, Blue Bird, Duloc Performer, Tapping Rai
  • DARIEN PARE as Pinocchio, Duloc Performer, Tapping Rai
  • NATASHA HANNA as Dragon, Blind Mice, Mad Hatter
  • MELISSA MILLS as Mama Ogre, Wicked Witch
  • BREANNAH DESCHAINE as Queen Lilian, Little Red Riding Hood, Duloc Performer, Tapping Rat
  • JESSIE GURNIAK as Fairy God Mother, Blind Mice, Duloc Performer, Tapping Rat
  • BAYLEIGH McLELLAND as Blind Mice, Pig 3, Duloc Performer
  • EMMA OSLEY as Humpty Dumpty, Duloc Performer, Tapping Rat
  • BRANDON PRESLEY as Captain of the Guard, Knight, Bishop
  • ALEX ALEJANDRIA as King Harold, Grumpy, Guard, Knight
  • GREG GEORGE as Big Bad Wolf, Thelonius, Knight, Guard
  • JEN GURNIAK as Pig 2, Duloc Performer, Tapping Rat
  • JULIE WALTON as Peter Pan, Duloc Performer
  • SPENCER HANSON as Pied Piper, Guard, Knight
  • MIKE GURNIAK as Papa Bear, Guard, Knight
  • CHEYENNE GAUTHIER as Mama Bear
  • AVA BOURDEAU as Baby Bear
  • ATHENA MUSTAPHA as White Rabbit
  • KELLY KILLEN as Pig 1
  • ALIES WATERS as Little Shrek, Goldilocks
Photo: Lori Deschaine
Photo: Lori Deschaine
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