Shrek: the Musical by Sun Valley High School in Aston, PA
March 21, 2018
Review submitted by Trinity Pike of Upper Merion Area High School
Familiar fairy tale tropes fill the stage – a beautiful maiden in a tower, a ferocious fire-breathing dragon, and a king with an army of knights. But with a sarcastic green ogre and sassy donkey as its heroes, Shrek: the Musical at Sun Valley High School is nowhere near typical.
Whether recognized for the 2001 Dreamworks film or the 2008 Broadway musical, this famous story is adored by many. On his seventh birthday, Shrek was sent away to live alone on a miserable swamp. But fairy tale creatures interrupt his quiet, isolated life. Desperately, they beg for the protection from a giant, ugly beast Shrek against the egotistical cruelty of Lord Farquaad. Shrek’s adventure begins when he hesitantly agrees.
Despite the challenge of recreating a cast of well-known characters, Sun Valley won the hearts of the audience with their lovable fairytale world. While cast energy was occasionally low, they came alive to make group numbers like “Freak Flag” shine. Comedy, engagement, and perseverance beyond technical challenges defined Sun Valley’s production as a wonderful, endearing one.
Lead actors Gianni Palmarini (Shrek) and Elizabeth Powell (Princess Fiona) elicited giggles from the crowd. Palmarini’s fabulous vocals, consistent accent, and lively acting brightened the production. Powell had great personality and body language, switching from graceful royal to aggressive boss within seconds. Their strong chemistry gave a punch to “I Think I Got You Beat” as they rocked out across the stage.
Despite Shrek’s quips, David Valentine (Lord Farquaad) never fell short. Combining skilled regal vocals with hilarious melodrama, Valentine ensured that even though plenty would make fun of him, no one would forget him. Matching his energy was funny, over-the-top Zack Volturo (Donkey), accompanied by melodic Jacqueline Scheck (Dragon). Tommy Christaldi (Pinocchio) led the freaks in their rebellion with passion, perfectly reproducing the character’s iconic high-pitched voice. While the ensemble was sometimes lacking expression, volume, and movement, their large stage presence in “What’s Up, Duloc?” and “Morning Person” revealed their true potential.
The sound crew struggled with the challenge of balancing the quiet cast with the loud pit, but they persevered beyond a few distracting mistakes to make many of the actors’ lines crisp and clear. The marketing team successfully transported guests into Shrek’s world – as soon as audience members entered the school, they were surrounded by colorful cutouts of the characters begging for a photo-op. Smooth set changes by the stage crew fluidly pushed the storyline along.
With spirited efforts, the cast and crew of Sun Valley’s Shrek defined morals with heart. Together, they showed that friendship and acceptance can give anyone a happy ending.
Review submitted by Bailey Collington of Interboro High School
“It’s a bright, big, beautiful world– but not for you” is a tenet accepted by the titular character in Shrek: the Musical at Sun Valley High School. From when the curtains open, Sun Valley stunned the audience with its self-aware humor, enticing vocalists, and more than a few heartfelt moments expertly captured by the actors as they sing their catchy, more often than not humorous, songs.
Shrek: the Musical originally opened in 2008 on Broadway and was written by David Lindsay-Abaire. Based off the 2001 film, the musical captures the feel of the movie and the lovable characters perfectly and with intent as even the youngest of fans who only knew the show from the movie were invested in the performance.
The show was packed to the brim with talented student actors who were very aware of their own characterizations and developed multi-dimensional, hysterical characters. Standouts include the talented Gianni Palmarini as Shrek, who possessed a magnitude of charisma, impressive vocals and had audience members attentively watching his every move with his comedic timing and uncanny ability to deliver sincere, heartfelt moments. The memorable accent from the film is captured by Palmarini and consistently maintained throughout. The adorable powerhouse that is Elizabeth Powell as Fiona also gained laughs as well as admiration from the audience as she was a triple threat of acting, dancing, and singing excellence. Perhaps the most memorable performance of the show was that of David Valentine as the imposing Lord Farquaad. From his first entrance, Valentine seized the audience’s attention and held it. His comedic timing was masterful and the mannerisms he developed as he embodied his character were a treat for everyone to watch. Valentine left the audience laughing in his standout number, ‘What’s Up Duloc?’
Backing the leads was an equally talented ensemble and supporting cast. The first ensemble number ‘Story of my life’ was a catchy standout number that showed that the cast would be a joy to watch in themselves, sharing the leads’ charisma.
Stage and tech crews did their jobs effectively and without any detectable hitch. The stage changes and set switches were simple enough and they executed them consistently well.
Shrek: the Musical at Sun Valley truly leaves the audience invested in the cast as they show off their vocalization and brilliant comedic timing. From heartfelt numbers like ‘When Words Fail’ to hilarious ones like ‘Don’t Let Me Go,’ the cast of Shrek: the Musical should be commended for their ability to keep audiences connected with their overarching message of ‘what makes us different, makes us strong.’ The stellar cast provided an enjoyable night of theater with this memorable performance.