Last year was a great year for Tuacahn goers with Mary Poppins and Peter Pan, two time-tested productions. I must state at how surprised I was last week when we watched both Shrek and Newsies. These two shows by far out class any other years production since I started reviewing in 2008. Newsies is already a musical so I anticipated it would be good. Shrek however is not a musical per-se and I had my doubts about its quality as a musical production. I thought to myself ‘how to take a young classic and make it a musical without bombing?’ . . . bam . . . I was not disappointed.
Shrek, as an animated movie, is funny for all ages and mixed with the stories and fairy tales most of us read as kids or watched on VHS (old school tech). I was skeptical of how one could make a musical with this story and make it good. Let’s discuss the hurdles –
- Donkey. If Donkey ‘Blows’ then the whole production suffers. Eddie Murphy’s voice is an icon to the movie and his personality is engraven in the antics of Donkey. The ‘one-liners’, the facial expressions, the tones all make this character a keystone for the transition from movie to musical. No pressure for the team at Tuachan or the actor right. Though no 100% ‘Eddy’ good enough to make you say ‘Dang Buckwheat’ (if you’re an Eddy fan you’ll laugh). The stage actor displayed a great ability to hit the voice inflections and timing of jokes with the movements of the character.
- Shrek. For many of the same reasons stated for Donkey can be duplicated here. The key is the slight British accent with the delivery style of Mike Myer’s. Again – the actor at Tuachan pulled it off well. Think about it – a successful Shrek must pull off ‘Flatulence’ with a straight face in front of hundreds of people – and the stage actor did it very well!
- Lord Farquaad. Time to discuss the midget . . . sorry . . . little person in the room. The choreography and costume design to take a grown person and transform them into the BIG EGO in a little itty-bitty of a man was no easy task. To my satisfaction the actor’s perfect timing and facial expressions, voice and tone (very much like the original John Lithgow) made this production – well – SING!
- Princess Fiona, Pinocchio and the Three Pigs. Fiona, as a character is important but like in the movie, her voice and antics don’t stand out as memorable as much as her personality – kind of rough around the edges – like she’s been locked in a tower and has less than perfect social skills. The actress portraying Fiona brought an amazing voice to the stage and did her part well to round out the main characters. Just like the movie the supporting roles of the ‘Real Boy’ and the three pigs the musical did not disappoint. I want to know how they made Pinocchio’s nose grow? The actor’s voice was spot on like many others in the production. Any one of these hurdles could have spelled despair for the show – but it all came together very well and before I knew it the curtain call was there with the signature fireworks. My hat is off to the director, the talented actors and the entire production team and crew at Tuachan and DreamWorks for this fantastic show. Well done
NOTE: Some readers are going to tell me ‘Shrek the movie has lots of music in it’ – which it does, but it is not a musical in my opinion because there is more dialogue than singing.
Newsies is a great American story, based on real life events, that Disney captured with a great film production and musical score. As an original musical production I didn’t think Tuachan would have a difficult time with this show and would make it great. My understanding is that this show is a ‘re-run’ for Tuacahn.
In my opinion I think the stage production is better than the movie and I will tell you why – LOVE. The love story the stage production brings in isn’t a strong point in the movie. In fact the love story in the movie almost doesn’t exist. The stage show creates a love story and pulls it off in a very surprising way. I won’t spoil it here and invite you to see for yourself.
The musical score of Newsies is great. The beat, the dancing, the emotion of the cause will have the crowd tapping their feet. We were singing along and cheering for the beloved ‘Crutchy’ and Jack as they fight for what’s right. The way Tuachan transforms the red cliffs of St George into a sunset in Santa Fe to music was awesome. I loved how the Newsies brought the audience into the show up the isles and during the intermission. You can’t help but enjoy your time at the theater.
These shows perform through Oct. 20th. A third production, Mama Mia, opens July 14th – we’ll have to wait to see how that stacks up to these two amazing productions.
Now for some shameless business stuff to help save our guests money and time
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