Sunday, September 29, 2013

Shrek: The Musical with LOT

The Lower Ossington Theatre (LOT) is a company I'd heard of but never experienced.  That changed when a friend was in town and I was looking for something to do.  We attended Shrek: The Musical on its opening weekend and I was suitably impressed.  I'm not sure how to describe LOT, maybe as a semi-professional company?  It's definitely a step above community theatre.  The performers were young and mostly graduates of theatre programs in the Toronto area.

Di Rosa as Shrek
I'd seen a touring production of Shrek when Dancap was still around, and while that was scaled down from clips I'd seen from the Broadway version, in terms of sets the LOT production was scaled down again.  However it didn't suffer for it.  It was at the Randolph Theatre and the side balcony seats don't have great sight lines.  One side of the stage was mostly cut off.  Had I paid full price for the seats I would have been disappointed.  A lot of the action did take place in the centre and one good thing about those seats was being able to watch the band.  They were on the other side of the balcony above the stage.  A small group of musicians (3 keyboards, bass, guitar, 2 winds, trumpet, trombone and percussion) did an admirable job even though some of the brass lines didn't always feel very secure.  It was also very smokey.  I'm not sure if they'd just tested the smoke machine but there was a definite haze in the place that didn't dissipate.

Nash as Fiona
The vocal talent of the performers was fantastic.  Andrew Di Rosa as Shrek, sounded just like Brian D'arcy James!  The accent was perfect and his voice full and rich.  He was great!  

Michelle Nash proved an equal partner as Princess Fiona handling the singing, acting and dancing, including my favourite part (the rat tap), with skill.  The Donkey really helps make the show and nothing was lacking from Mark Willet.  His timing with Shrek was always on and he showed his excellent vocal talents in "The Travel Song" and "Make a Move".  Koodos also to Andrew Soutter as Lord Farquaad for his knee dancing.
Soutter as Farquaad with ensemble Knights

The sound had some problems on occasion with mics not being switched on soon enough and varying volume levels as well.  This showed up mainly with the ensemble cast rather than the principals and hopefully was fixed at later performances.  

Shrek continues through Oct. 19, so grab your freak flag and enjoy a fun show. 

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