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‘Shrek The Musical’ at Reston Community Players

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Reston Community Players’ production of Shrek The Musical (Book and Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and Music by Jeanine Tesori) is just as fun as the movie it is based on, with the added bonus of unfolding live in front of you. Sue Pinkman directs this lively production with the audience’s enjoyment in mind and a keen eye for engaging detail.

Paul Tonden (Shrek) and Jolene Vettese (Princess Fiona). Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Paul Tonden (Shrek) and Jolene Vettese (Princess Fiona). Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Paul Tonden embodies the gruff yet reluctantly kind-hearted Shrek.  Although his makeup and head piece appeared to slightly inhibit his ability to fully utilize his facial expressions, his skilled timing and powerful singing voice more than make up for this. His rendition of “Build a Wall” was glorious.

Jolene Vettese is obviously having a blast as Princess Fiona. She is charismatic, flippant, playful, and charmingly inappropriate, bringing an edge to the fairy tale princess archetype. She delivers a beautiful rendition of “Morning Person” and is joined on the trio “I Know It’s Today” featuring Teen Fiona (Allie Lytle) and Young Fiona (Ella Schnoor). She and Tonden deliver beautiful a beautiful “Who I’d Be.”

No production of Shrek would be complete without Donkey, the loveable sidekick, here portrayed by Joshua Redford. The noble steed is cuddly and a crowd-pleaser. He is adorable in “I Think I Got You Beat” and in his solos “Don’t Let Me Go” and “Make a Move.”

Joshua Redford (Donkey) and Paul Tonden (Shrek). Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Joshua Redford (Donkey) and Paul Tonden (Shrek). Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Another Shrek staple is Lord Farquaad, performed by the comical Chuck Dluhy, who should be commended for his fabulous “knee dancing.” “What’s Up, Duloc?” and “Ballad of Farquaad” made the audience roar!

One of the most enjoyable parts of this show is the energetic and versatile ensemble. The twenty or so actors portray multiple roles including knights, fairy tale characters, and citizens of the picturesque land of Duloc. Leading the group are Evie Korovesis (Gingy and Sugar Plum Fairy) and Patrick Graham (Pinocchio).

The delightful Korovesis shines onstage, drawing your eye no matter how many other actors are up there with her. And she steals the show in “Freak Flag” with Graham. Graham’s hilarious portrayal makes you long for someone to write Pinocchio, The Musical! just for him.

As the voice of the Dragon, Jennifer Lambert shows off her powerful vocal chops in “Forever.” Unfortunately, at this performance some unlucky sound issues prevented her incredible voice and performance to be completely heard.

Patrick Graham (Pinocchio), Evie Korovesis (Gingy) and the Ensemble in "Freak Flag." Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Patrick Graham (Pinocchio), Evie Korovesis (Gingy) and the Ensemble in “Freak Flag.” Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Individually, the gorgeous lighting design (Franklin Coleman), lush set pieces (Lawrence Gresko, Doug Rolston, Cathy Rieder, and Sabrina Begley), and cute sound effects (Jon Roberts) were impressive. Unfortunately, at my performance, many technical elements of the show went awry, jolting the audience out of the fairy tale during several crucial moments.

The orchestra, conducted by Music Director Elisa Rosman, was enthusiastic and energetic, albeit not always completely in sync with the singers or each other. Kathy Dunlap’s costume design is detailed and high quality with bright colors and tutus galore. Stage Manager Eileen Mullee, Assistant Stage Manager Micheal J. O’Connor, Running Crew Chief Sara Birkhead, and Stagehands Tigan Hughes, Matthew Wise, Richard Durkin, Lilya Eberle, Dan Widerski, Schyler Widerski, Tara Koslov, and Kat Davis worked valiantly to keep all the moving pieces of this intricate show in order.

Allie Lytle, Jolene Vettese, and Ella Schnoor as the three Fionas in "I Know It's Today." Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Allie Lytle, Jolene Vettese, and Ella Schnoor as the three Fionas in “I Know It’s Today.” Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

A highlight of the production is the choreography, especially the big ensemble numbers. Choreographer Ivan Davila, assisted by Co-Choreographer Hayley North, utilizes the cast’s varied skill levels to great effect. “Story of My Life” is especially notable for its clever nods to classic ballets and old Broadway standards.

Reston Community Players’ Shrek the Musical is an entertaining show that is perfect for the whole family. So let your freak flag fly and go join the fun!

Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.

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Shrek plays through November 7, 2015 at The Reston Community Center – 2310 Colts Neck Road, in Reston, VA.  For tickets call the box office at (703) 476-4500 x3, or purchase them online.

LINKS:
Meet The Cast of Reston Community Players’ ‘Shrek The Musical’: Part 1: Paul Tonden and Jolene Vettese.

Meet The Creative Team Behind Reston Community Players’ ‘Shrek The Musical’: Part 2: Director Sue Pinkman and Music Director Elisa Rosman.

Meet The Cast of Reston Community Players’ ‘Shrek The Musical’: Part 3: Jennifer Lambert, Patrick Graham, and Evie Korovesis.

Meet Reston Community Players’ Farquaad and Donkey in ‘Shrek The Musical’: Part 4: Chuck Dluhy and Joshua Redford.

RATING: FOUR-STARS19.gif

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