Shrek the Musical by The Academy of the New Church in Bryn Athyn, PA
April 24, 2018
Review submitted by Julia Jennings of Upper Moreland High School
In a world where division and conflict can seem far too common at times, it is crucial to remember the importance of accepting others in spite of their differences and celebrating what makes everyone unique. Academy of the New Church reinforced this message of acceptance through their recent performance of Shrek the Musical.
This production follows the adventures of an ogre named Shrek and his friend the donkey as they challenge social norms in the kingdom of Duloc and embark on a journey to rescue Princess Fiona from the menacing tower in which she is imprisoned. Although Shrek first begins this journey with the simple intent to rid his swamp of some pesky fairytale creatures, in the end he finds greater acceptance, friendship, and even love.
Academy of the New Church undertook the difficult task of performing a fantasy production with intricate character costuming and makeup, and yet the production captivated the audience with mesmerizing set pieces, impressive acting, and likeable characters who brought the story to life.
Leading the cast of fantastical misfits was Shrek the ogre, played by Tim Radcliffe. Radcliffe embodied the role, keeping a consistent and impressive Scottish accent for the length of the performance. As his sidekick, Donkey, Bradley Robinson added another element of humor to the show with impressive, well-timed comedic delivery. Camryn Buss brought to life the role of the earnest yet exasperated Princess Fiona with charm, wit, and excellent vocals.
Stepping into the role of Lord Farquaad only days before the performance, Zach Lambertus performed impeccably, with confident mastery of the role. Another stand-out was actor James Gay as Pinocchio, with amazing, genuine delivery and incredible falsetto vocals. As Dragon, Emily Martin was a powerful singer and a dramatic actress. The dragon’s “wings”, played by Rayna Synnestvedt and Mikalah Klippenstein were also a highlight in the scene, with mysterious, graceful choreography. The fairytale creatures added incredible energy to the performance, as did the two younger Fionas, Serena Boyeson and Madison Zagorski, both also bringing charming vocals to the show.
Perhaps the most impressive element of the production was the dynamic set, creating the incredible illusion of the depths of a forest, the interior of a castle, and the cramped enclosure of an isolated tower. The hair and makeup were equally impressive, and, along with the costumes, helped to bring many fantasy animals to life with intricate detail.
With authentic acting, impressive set design, and an important message, Academy of the New Church’s performance of Shrek helped to remind the audience that it is the differences between us and the unique capabilities possessed by each person that make this such a “big, bright, beautiful world”.
Review submitted by Rachael Hesse of Phoenixville Area High School
The best kind of classic fairytales don’t come without dainty princesses, wooden puppets, and clandestine happy endings; but what really is a good story without a slimy green ogre, a talking donkey, and a belching princess? Academy of the New Church’s production of Shrek the Musical enchanted the audience right into a new kind of fairytale.
Based on the 2001 Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature from Dreamworks, and the book by David Lindsay-Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori: Shrek The Musical tells the tale of an outcast ogre named Shrek who wants nothing more than a life of farts inside his dirty swamp…. very much alone. When he finds his home infested with other outcast fairytale creatures, he leaves for Duloc in hope to have his swamp once again. Shrek ends up making a deal with a short, (not so sweet) Lord Farquaad to gain his land back, but first he needs to save a princess from a dragon-guarded tower.
Shrek played by Tim Radcliffe embodied the theme of the show – to be proud of who you are – with a great accent, and a dream to go someday be a hero. Radcliffe shared the stage with the energetic Bradley Robinson (Donkey) and the elegant Camryn Buss (Fiona), who showed off her amazing tap-dancing skills in the song “Morning Person” with the Dancing Rats.
Standouts among the supporting cast included Zach Lambertus who stepped into the role of Lord Farquaad only two days before opening night with all lines and lyrics already memorized. James Gay, who played Pinocchio, had perfect comedic timing and truly stole the show whenever he entered the stage in his entertaining falsetto voice.
Another notable performance was that of Dragon. Emily Martin with her powerful vocals in the song “Forever” made it one of the most enjoyable numbers of the show. In the number “I Know It’s Today”, Young Fiona played by Madison Zagorski, and Serena Boyesen who played Teen Fiona had compelling vocals and beautiful harmonies with Camryn Buss (Fiona) that brought the audience to their feet.
The ANC Makeup Team with Nita Mizhquiri, Emily Martin, and Crew had several very quick beautiful makeup changes. The sets created and designed by the Stagecraft Class were breathtaking, gave life to the stage, and showed just how important the production team can be.
ANC’s production was filled with a very important message that is extremely relevant to the political climate of today; be yourself and be proud. Academy of the New Church’s production of Shrek the Musical inspired everyone in the audience and made sure that they remembered that it is a “Big Bright Beautiful World” out there!