Shrek: The Musical

Shrek: The Musical popped up in my Netflix suggestions a while ago, and for the first while, I resisted. Nothing about the movie–as much as I enjoyed it–led me to believe it really needed to be a musical, and I envisioned 2.5 hours of fart jokes set to a musical score. Not exactly my idea of a fun time. And yet, one thing I’ve been wanting my kids to get into more is the Broadway scene. Especially TRC. The motivation is purely selfish. I like watching musicals, and I’d love to watch them with my family, but he’s typically the one who’d rather get his teeth pulled by rusty pliers.

Were some musical farts worth it, as a gateway drug?

In the end, I decided that they must be. It couldn’t be *that* bad, could it?

So last week we watched the musical as a family. The first scene started to make me question my resolve. It has young Shrek being sent off into the world to be made fun of and ridiculed. From there, it goes on to a musical number with the fairy tale creatures, and I was not impressed. This was living up to my low expectations, minus the fart jokes. There were some funny spots, and the costumes were great, but the music was just so so, and I was far from convinced this was a good idea. TRC and DC were enjoying themselves for the most part, though, so . . . win?

And then we hit the number that introduces Princess Fiona (“I Know It’s Today”), and suddenly the musical went from middling to great. The staging was really well done, the music was super, the acting spot on. It was an actual, really good piece. And it turned around my perception of the musical a great deal. Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t start thinking that this should win the Tony for Best Musical, but it had earned some amount of respect from me, which let me give it the benefit of the doubt during the times when the musical was only so-so.

The thing is, there are plenty of musicals I really like where they have a few numbers I don’t care for much at all, and some that I think are only okay. But because I know the musical or the composer, I look past those. Until “I Know It’s Today,” I had no reason to give the same leeway to Shrek, and I’m glad I ended up keeping watching. In the end, the whole family really liked the musical. There were some other whiffs, but some other really good numbers, too. Better yet, they’d clearly focused on making a filmed version of the musical, so it was well-produced throughout. I wish more Broadway musicals would do this. At the very least the Disney ones? Anything to be able to capture some of that at home.

Now, that all said, be aware that there is a 2.5 minute farting/burping number, just as I thought there would be. TRC thought that was the highpoint of the whole thing. He was laughing non-stop. The first twenty seconds were pretty funny. After that . . . not so much.

But the biggest sign that my experiment was a success? I put TRC to the Hello Dolly test. That’s right: a whole musical about matchmaking. If he could watch that happily, then clearly something went right. I told them last night that’s what I wanted to watch, and TRC happily went along with it. No complaints. And he was laughing along with the rest of us at the funny parts, enjoying himself.

We haven’t finished it yet (hard to watch an entire movie when you’ve got a baby that needs watching, too), but we’re deep into it, and there’s no signs of us needing to stop, and so for that, I say “Thank you very much, Shrek.”

In the end, I’d give the musical a 7/10. Maybe a 6.5. But it was all worth it to get my kids into musicals some more. Give it a shot if you haven’t seen it. Don’t expect AWESOME, but I’m almost sure it’ll be better than you thought it would be.

Already seen it? Let me know what you thought.

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