“Shrek: The Musical” premiered at the Quincy Music Theatre this weekend.
The Broadway show wrapped a love story, fairy tales and comedy into a two-act musical for all ages.
For many audience members such as Kristen Zinker, “Shrek: The Musical” was their first show at the Quincy Music Theatre, but the drive to the rural city was worth it.
“I loved the show,” said Zinker, a 22-year-old from Sylvester, Ga. “It grabbed my attention and kept it.”
While Zinker was a fan of the considerably charming role children played in the show, it was Mario Roberts, portraying Donkey, who she said stole the show.
Roberts, a Florida A&M senior theater performance student from Miami, was recently involved in a summer production of “Hairspray” on the Quincy Music Theatre stage. However, according to the show’s playbill, Donkey is his first lead role.
“It was a big obstacle being a lead,” Roberts said. “And not being a trained singer meant I had to work twice as hard as those with experience.”
Even with the challenge, Roberts described the experience of the show in one word: amazing.
“The cast made me feel comfortable,” he said. “They had great attitudes and camaraderie, which was important, especially for me, Shrek and Fiona since we spend so much time together on stage.”
What stood out for audience members such as FAMU alumnus Tanetria Wallace was Roberts’ take on the character made famous by Eddie Murphy.
Wallace agreed with Dametria “Dee” Selmore, another cast member, in saying that Roberts’ portrayal was refreshing.
“He’s clearly one of the favorites in the show,” Selmore said. “I saw all of the hard work that he put into creating this character. His natural comedic timing and his spirit came through in this character.”
Wallace said the costumes were vibrant and colorful. “Shrek: The Musical” also had an international touch, using the Japanese bunraku technique of puppeteering to create Dragon, Donkey’s love interest.
“The costumes showed diversity and brought each character to life,” Wallace said.
Because of Dragon and other characters, Naomi Rose-Mock, director of “Shrek: The Musical,” said this show was challenging.
“We had to build a 23-foot dragon puppet, deal with insane makeup and costume changes with virtually no time,” Rose-Mock said.
Selmore, who played Mama Ogre, helped puppeteer Dragon and provided harmonic vocals, said the show gave her an outlet to grow as an artist.
“Not only am I fairly new to doing musicals, but I am also definitely new to doing children shows,” Selmore said. “This type of show, you have to let yourself go and be a part of the fairy-tale land. It really helped me as a performer to be able to have this experience.”
Much like Roberts, Leon Evans felt that the show changed him as an artist.
Evans, a third-year theater student from West Palm Beach, was also in “Hairspray” this summer but said “Shrek: The Musical” opened doors for him creatively.
“As an actor, I had to break out of my shell and go to that child-like state in order to really harness my character,” Evans said.
Rose-Mock said she wanted audience-goers to leave the show understanding its underlying message.
“I wanted the message of acceptance and looking beyond the physical appearance to the beauty within to resonate with our audiences,” Rose-Mock said.
Evans quoted a lyric, reminding people to “let your freak flag wave” and that “beautiful ain’t always pretty.”
“Shrek: The Musical” closes Sunday at the Quincy Music Theatre.