Riverside’s Stage Brings a Far Away Kingdom to Life

Shrek: the Musical Review

A swamp, a faraway kingdom, an imprisoned princess. This April, a land far far away came to none other than the Riverside auditorium, with the musical theater production of Shrek: The Musical. 

Riverside’s production closely followed that of the 2001 DreamWorks blockbuster about a not-so-friendly ogre (Joey Walker), and his jubilant sidekick, a talking donkey (Rae Foraker). 

The curtain opens to a young Shrek (Anneliese Dansie) and Fiona (Delia Aguilar), as we learn their troubling but similar backstories. From there, the show takes form as a colorful and energetic representation of the popular storyline. 

Bright scenes, like those including the ensemble of fairytale creatures, featured simple choreography, but made up for it with captivating costumes. Each of the characters in the fairytale ensemble strongly resemble their unique personality and came together to create an entertaining bunch. Certain characters, such as Pinnochio, played by Jacob Orozco Velasquez, and the Wicked Witch, played by Freshman Aubrey Mitchell, stood out as performers. 

However, the comedic aspect was dominated by Donkey. Foraker made the character her own and added her own special twist on the roll. Her ability to interact and work the crowd was unmatched by anyone else in the cast. The delivery of Donkey’s jokes was perfectly timed, and she worked well with her fellow actors. 

Walker and Foraker’s chemistry between Shrek and Donkey was exactly like the movie, and Walker did a great job representing the character development Shrek endured from the beginning to the end. 

As for the singing, no one performed like Princess Fiona. Played by three different actresses, young (Delia Aguilar), teen (Ayla Wolfson), and adult Fiona (Sofia Ventimiglia) blended seamlessly together. In the first act, all three princesses sang solo verses on a nearly 20 foot balcony. Covered in hanging ivy, the tower set was by far the most impressive in the show. The harmony at the end of the song was the most memorable moment of the entire show. 

Standing out the most among the Fionas was Ventimiglia. Playing the lead role as adult Fiona, she added a broadway-level voice to the cast. The confidence she showed on stage drew the audience’s eyes to her in every one of her scenes. 

A technical theater student creates the set for Shrek: The Musical. Technical theater students were responsible for the lighting, sound and set design for the April 20-22 production. Photo by Tate Gasch.

The use of light effects was clever and used well, but the sound was not on par with the rest of the show. During closing night, there were a couple of audio issues that caused loud feedback noises, and at times it was hard to distinguish what the actors were saying, even from the front row. 

The songs were fun, but nearly a third of them seemed irrelevant to the plot. There were at least four songs that added little or nothing to the overall story, and contributed to a nearly three hour runtime. Some of the choreography also seemed to be overlooked during scenes with fewer characters. The stage crew did a good job running things efficiently, but there were just too many scenes. 

For such a long show, the nearly all-student orchestra did an incredible job. From start to finish they played every song. Sophomore percussionist Charlotte Infinito did a stand out job, hustling all over the orchestra pit. The strings section sounded really strong, although sometimes the actors were not singing loud enough to be heard over it. 

The costumes throughout the musical were a little inconsistent, with some of them being really detailed and others lacking in the same aspect.

The Riverside theater department continues to put on ambitious productions despite being a small and lesser known program at RHS. 

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