“Shrek the Musical” – on stage at the Granite Theater until July 24 – is so enjoyable, so fun, such an extravaganza and so packed with top-notch performances (there’s a huge cast with huge talent, lots of dancing and singing, live music, a great set and wonderful costumes), you better hurry and buy tickets before word gets out and they’re all gone.
Jaron Wilbur, a veteran East Lyme Regional Theater performer plays our hero, Shrek, the lovable ‘massive green ogre’ who is so superb he almost steals the show – until we meet the glorious Grace Gilbert who IS Fiona. Gilbert, a 2019 graduate of Stonington High School who is studying musical theater at Plymouth State University, is an outstanding performer with a magnificent voice. (She received three CT HALO Awards and a CT Stephen Sondheim Award nomination for her role as Dolly Levi in ”Hello, Dolly!”) Gilbert is a star.
And then there’s Christopher-David Caraballo (another Stonington High School graduate) who is hilarious (and excellent) as Lord Farquaad, a vertical challenge. What a voice! What a presence! (Caraballo’s mother and sister were seated in front of us and seemed to enjoy the show as much as we did, if their laughter is any measure.)
Donkey also gives memorable (and extraordinary) performances by Aidan Lamont, who is terrifically endearing as Donkey, and Layla Vafiadis, who is superbly magnificent as Dragon. Vafiadis also plays the ugly duckling in the colorful and lively stable of homeless fairy tale characters (Mitchell Burns, in his Granite debut, does a very good and very funny Pinocchio) which includes Regan Smith as Gingy and the Sugar Plum Fairy, Hayley Mezza as Teen Fiona and Humpty Dumpty, Bobbie Doherty as Peter Pan, Amanda Boaz as The Wicked Witch and Queen, and Rhyan Sousa, who played Young Fiona.
Hats off to the tap dancers: Jessica Shafer, Bobbie Doherty, Helen Gross, Haley Mezza, Amanda Boaz and Layla Vafiadas. The “Three Blind Mice” routine was splendid.
It was such a pleasure to see the wonderful John Lamar (who tackles three roles) back on the Granite stage, alongside George Sanchez (who also has three roles.)
Congratulations to stage manager Julia Reid, also for her debut at the Granite and congratulations to the set team: David McCombe, Tony Trombino, George Sancez, Michael Gullino and Will Allik. The whole thing is a work of art!
Director Erin Sousa-Stanley once again steps out of the musical park with this one-show blockbuster. Music director Chris Stanley may also salute. What a pleasure to see him play on stage with the other musicians of the pit.