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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: Flashy ‘Shrek The Musical’ in Menasha impresses in many ways

Critic At Large

Fox Theatre (University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Fox Cities Campus Theatre)

Show logo.

Sometimes local shows take a step beyond. “Shrek The Musical” in Menasha is many steps beyond.

The production presented by Fox Theatre is loaded with talent on stage, in the pit, behind the scenes and in the creative team.

The story is fun to start with – an ogre, a princess, a talking donkey, fairytale characters and a pipsqueak wannabe king. And then characters are let loose with all kinds of visual and musical flair.

Before action starts, the specialty stage curtain makes a statement. It’s a huge display of vegetation-like green with a 12 or so foot “S” in the middle that has sparkles in it. The statement: This is going to be a big, all-out show.

Full-stage curtain for “Shrek The Musical.” (Warren Gerds)

And so “Shrek The Musical” is.

And it’s family oriented, although some kiddies may go home retelling the parts about passing gas and belching (and maybe a few will catch the adult humor).

The story is built to have fun: A mean lord has kicked the fairytale creatures out of his castle and sent them to the swamp of the ogre Shrek, who doesn’t want them around. With a donkey as a sidekick, Shrek treks to heroism and unlikely love (he thinks) from a princess who’s been stuffed away in a castle tower since she was 7 years old – the same age Shrek was banished to the swamp by his parents.

Messages abound – don’t judge a book by its cover being a main one.

It’s a lively tale, filled with jokes and giggles.

Veteran actor and director Lorenz “Larry” Marcus scores as Shrek, the green, mean ogre who is a sensitive soul at heart. He speaks in a dusting of an Irish accent.

Chelsey Burke is a hit as Princess Fiona, singing like a lark and tossing in some tap-dancing to fire up Act II.

Also a hit is Ericka Wade as Donkey, expressive and cheery and a joy to have around.

Kevin Plekan is a hoot as sawed-off Lord Farquaad, always the butt of jokes for his outrageous ego.

Among fairytale creatures, Kris Isham stands out for her on-purpose squeaky voice, great costume, magical eye make-up and a nose that grows – no lie!

Colorful voices abound, starting with a duet at the start.

The show has a live orchestra – a bonus. And it’s terrific and energy-packed – a bonus bonus.

The house stage floor has another floor atop it. That’s for special trickery like signs and plants that appear from the floor and smoke-and-light eruptions at key moments.

A key backdrop is a floor to ceiling image of a forest. One scene includes a bridge (over molten lava), with a purposely faulty slat.

Director/choreographer Adam VandenHeuvel and his collaborators let their imaginations fly and set a wonderful plate for the performers, who respond with eagerness.

Certain shows are so popular that people who like to perform put roles on their bucket list. This production has that feel to it, plus the company looks like it is having a blast.

This is a special production.


Creative: Based on Dreamworks animated motion picture and book by William Steig; book and lyrics – David Lindsay-Abaire; music – Jeanine Tesori; director and choreographer – Adam VandenHeuvel; co-choreographer*/dance captain – Kylie Kintopf; scenic and lighting design – Andrew Schmitz; scenic engineer – Darryl Rantanen; stage manager – Jacqui Lange; assistant stage manager – Jensen MacKenzie; costumer – John La Prarie and Theater by Design; producer/acting coach – Susan Rabideau


Shrek – Lorenz Marcus
Fiona – Chelsey Burke
Donkey – Ericka Wade
Farquaad – Kevin Plekan
Dragon/fairytale – Amanda Petersen
Sugar Plum Fairy – Autumn Christensen
Papa Ogre/ Captain of the Guard – Steve Herrick
Mama Ogre – Connie Schuster
Young Shrek/Grumpy the Dwarf – Grant Shea
Papa Bear/King harold – Alex Bong
Ugly Duckling/Queen Lilian – Brittney Baldwin
Young Fiona – Norah Boehm
Teen Fiona – Marni Wenzel
Mama bear/ dragon backup – Molly Schlaack
Baby Bear – Milo Beckett
Pinnochio – Kris Isham
Gingy – Alexis Bestol
Big Bad Wolf – Nick Lamers
Wicked witch/ dragon back up – Jessica Lietzan
Humpty Dumpty/ dragon backup – Tonie Yankowski
Peter Pan – Caleb Lietzan
Fairy Godmother – Kylie Kintopf
Pig 1 – Aidyn Reetz
Pig 2 – Austin Demerath
Pig 3 – Jen Steffen
White Rabbit – Sami Markle
Mad Hatter – Tony Montaivo

Ensemble – Quinn Martinson, Max Lietzan, James Wilson, Emily Beyer, Krista Frenz, Leo Beckett, Hannah Schierl, Leah Nolte, Kelly Riesterer, Autumn Shea

Rat Tappers – Jessica lietzan, Brittney Bladwin, Kylie Kintopf, Alexis Bestol, Molly Schlaak, Krista Franz, Autumn Christianson

Orchestra: Conductor – Todd Wegner; bass – Rachel Richards; percussion – Dan Guilette; guitar – Marcus Wittmann; keyboard – Sarah Wheeler; reeds – Jan Parker; trumpet – Bob Cheal; violin – Craig Heckner; drums – Maureen Milbach; guitar – Malakai Flynn; horn – Alexandra Mattson; keyboard – Justin Torzala; reeds – Craig Hietpas; trombone – Jeff White; violin – Mary Kate Smith

Running time: Two hours, 20 minutres

Remaining performances: 7 p.m. Feb. 22; 7 p.m. Feb. 27-29




Act I

“Big Bright Beautiful World” – Shrek, Papa Ogre, Mama Ogre, Young Shrek, King Harold, Queen Lillian, Young Fiona, Happy People

“Story of My Life” – Pinocchio, Fairytale Creatures

“The Goodbye Song” – Fairytale Creatures

“Don’t Let Me Go” – Donkey

“Regiment 1” – Farguaad’s Guards

“Regiment” (Reprise) – Farguaad’s Guards

 “What’s Up Duloc?” – Lord Farquaad, Dulocians

“I Know It’s Today” – Young Fiona, Teen Fiona, Fiona

“Travel Song” – Donkey, Shrek

“Forever”* – Dragon, Donkey, Backup

“This is How a Dream Comes True” – Fiona, Shrek

“Who I’d Be” – Shrek, Fiona, Donkey

Act II

“Morning Person”* – Fiona, Bluebird, Pied Piper, Rat Dancers

“I Think I Got You Beat” – Fiona, Shrek

“The Ballad of Farquaad” – Farquaad, Guards

“When Words Fail” – Shrek

“Morning Person” (Reprise) – Fiona

“Build a Wall” – Shrek

“Freak Flag”* – Gingy, Pinocchio, Fairytale Creatures

“Big Bright Beautiful World” (Reprise) – Shrek

“Finale (This is Our Story)” – Company

“I’m a Believer” – Company


NEXT: “Dream Role,” April 23-26.

THE VENUE: The 361-seat, two-level James W. Perry Hall features a proscenium (flat-front) stage with a substantial performance area of 36 feet wide by 86 feet deep. Acoustic clouds are part of the ceiling. On the side walls are acoustic panels of copper color that matches the woodwork stain on seat backs and arms and on decorative square and rectangular wood panels. The theater is amply equipped and fairly new. The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Fox Cities Campus Communication Arts Center opened in 2009. The adjacent lobby is spacious and includes a ticket office, snack service area, restrooms and spaces for art and photo displays.

THE NAMESAKE: James W. Perry is the former dean and campus executive officer of the former University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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