Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Shrek, Mercury Summer Stock

(Patrick Ciamacco as Shrek and Justin Woody as Donkey)

Everyone needs a little (make that a huge) ogre in their lives, and you won’t find a better one than the big greenie played by Patrick Ciamacco in this lively production.

Yes, the artistic director of Blank Canvas Theatre is moonlighting as the title character in this musical that feels a lot like Beauty and the Beast with attitude. Shrek is an ugly outcast who keeps others at arm’s length with sarcastic putdowns, until a princess pierces his defenses.

Director and choreographer Pierre-Jacques Brault has not spared the horsepower on costumes and scenery, and the young cast performs with unflagging spirit.

Even though some of the scenes and dance numbers go a bit flat, Brian Marshall as the height-challenged Lord Farquaad is always there to brighten the proceedings. Stomping about on his stumpy legs, Marshall’s Farquaad is a pint-sized terror, and consistently hilarious.

Sara Masterson handles all the duties of the princess-with-a-secret with a sure hand, from the farting and belching contest with Shrek to her songs such as “Morning Person.”

As Shrek’s donkey/sideman, Justin Woody can conjure laughs from the simplest lines, although his singing range is not nearly as wide as his infectious grin.

The fairy tale characters who are thrown out of the Lord’s kingdom all look their parts, but many of their lyrics are inaudible. And the inflatable balloon nose on Pinnochio goes distressingly limp when he’s not lying, leaving a thin string of rubber that flops around and gets in the way of a promising performance by Danny DiMarino.

Dan DiCello and Kelvette Beacham offer some sharp cameos, with Beacham coming on strong as the fearsome dragon.

But most importantly, Ciamacco is throughly amazing, mastering the Shrek voice we’ve come to expect and singing his songs with professional pizzazz and feeling. And when his Shrek and Fiona embrace at the end, it’s enough to make ordinary humans green with envy.

Through June 29 at Mercury Summer Stock, Regina Hall, Notre Dame College, Green Road between Mayfield and Cedar Roads, South Euclid, 216-771-5862

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