“Mamma Mia” at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Many of us, maybe most of us, have seen the 2008 film version of Mamma Mia, the romantic comedy about a young bride’s attempt to find her father, set in Greece, and festooned with songs by the Swedish pop group ABBA. Fewer of us have seen the stage version, at least locally, unless you are among the estimated 60 million who have attended the show worldwide since it opened in 1999.

Beef and Boards brings us a grand opportunity to attend and enjoy a top-level edition of the show, which, under the inspired guidance of director/choreographer Ron Morgan, rocked the packed house at the local dinner theatre last evening with a breathless and eye- popping presentation.

Mamma Mia is, in a word, fantastic, with a prize cast of outstanding singers, dancers and actors, who carry us away with their amazing vocal talents while performing some of the most inspired choreographic work I have witnessed from Mr. Morgan.

Mamma Mia at Beef and Boards

Donna Sheridan (Amy Bodnar), left, is shocked to see three former lovers (from left) Sam Carmichael (Mark Epperson), Harry Bright (Don Farrell), and Bill Austin (Jeff Stockberger). Donna’s daughter, Sophie (Rachelle Rose Clark), seated, watches her reaction.

Broadway veteran Amy Bodnar stars as single mom Donna Sheridan, alongside Rachelle Rose Clark who plays her daughter/the bride – Sophie. These two uniquely gifted performers give remarkable turns, especially Ms. Bodnar’s show-stopping “The Winner Takes It All” and Ms. Clark’s lovely “I Have a Dream”. They are supported onstage by a plethora of talent – beginning with Donna’s cohorts from a past incarnation – Donna and the Dynamos: the thrice married Tanya, played by the lovely Jalynn Steele and the nebbish Rosie, played with great comic skill by Lanene Charters. The combined trio offer up outstanding renditions of “Dancing Queen” and “Super Trouper”.

Super Trouper

The Dynamos, Donna (Amy Bodnar), center, Tanya (Jalynn Steele), left, and Rosie (Lanene Charters) sing “Super Trouper”.

Add in a talented trio of males – the prospective fathers (all having had romances with Donna, the better to confuse Sophie’s search for her dad) played by Mark Epperson as architect Sam Carmichael, Jeff Stockberger as travel writer Bill Austin, and Don Farrell as Brit banker Harry Bright. Then – count in Sophie’s fiance, Sky, played by Will Leonard, and her bridesmaids – Ali and Lisa, Chloe Kounadis and Lauren Morgan, respectively. All in all – with the 10 additional ensemble members, you have a huge cast onstage, performing incredible dance routines and songs, wearing Jill Kelly Howe’s vibrant arrangement of costumes, to the orchestral offerings of Terry Woods’ fine B&B orchestra – I tell you, it was pretty darn remarkable and impressive!

Voulez-Vous

One of Ron Morgan’s incredible creations: “Voulez-Vous” with the entire “Mamma Mia” cast.

There are way too many highlights from the show to include them all. The entire female ensemble’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” was a standout number, as was “Does Your Mother Know?” with Jalynn Steele and company. Jeff Stockberger and Lanene Charters join forces for a hilarious encounter, as Bill and Rosie discover each other in “Take a Chance on Me”; and certainly the grand finale is an unbelievable display of talents, colors and sound.

Does Your Mother Know

Jalynn Steele as Tanya is spotlighted in her rendition of “Does Your Mother Know?”

Bottomline: You simply do not want to miss what has to be near the top of the list of superior productions that Beef and Boards has offered us over it’s 45 year history. And that goes for Chef Odell’s exceptional buffet for this show, as well. There is not much more I can say to get across what a truly phenomenal theatre experience this is. I loved it – go see it!

Momma Mia continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through April 8th. Show times and reservations can be viewed at http://www.beefandboards.com or you may call the box office at  317-872-9664.

  • – Photos by Julie Curry
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“Greater Tuna” at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

First of all, I want to wish ASOTA readers a very Happy New Year. I hope 2018 is full of blessings and opportunities for you all!

Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre opens its 45th season with the zany comedy, Greater Tuna. Written by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears, and Ed Howard, the 1981 play is a tribute to attitudes and foibles of small town life in rural America. Set in the fictional town of Tuna, Texas – we are introduced to a series of rather broadly conceived characters with an array of problems and outlooks that are ripe for the stage talents of Eddie Curry and Jeff Stockberger (who also directs the show). These two familiar actors play all of the 20 or so eccentric citizens we meet during the proceedings.

Mssrs. Curry and Stockberger actually have a rather long history of performing together, going all the way back to their first venture together at a summer theatre production in Galveston, Texas in 1988. As many of us have previously seen in their frequent appearances together on the B&B stage, they have developed a natural feel for each other’s talents and the results are always a pleasure to watch.

Greater Tuna2

Arles Struvie (left) and Aunt Pearl Burras are just two of the nearly 20 zany characters from Tuna, Texas played by Jeff Stockberger and Eddie Curry in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s “Greater Tuna”.

Working through a very 1980’s toned script, the two gentlemen create characters that are at once identifiable – from the overwrought mother with the delinquent son and the disappointed cheerleader-wannabe daughter, to the wordy reverend, the self-righteous morality campaigner, and the kind-hearted animal shelter worker. All are broadly written and played, with a good measure of the fun being the way these two actors are costumed for their roles.

Some of the more specific points of the show, which in the 80’s bit hard on certain conventions, are not nearly as relevant today – some outlooks even feel a bit cruel by today’s standards. But, the outlandish characters are played with comedic relish and suitable pathos. The second act is a bit stronger than the first, mostly I think as act one spends a good deal of time in story setups, while act two sets the characters free.

Charlene doesn't make cheerleader

Bertha Bumiller (Eddie Curry), left, scolds her daughter Charlene (Jeff Stockberger) for sulking that she didn’t “make cheerleader” in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s “Greater Tuna”.

A crew of four dressing assistants (Cindy Mollencupp, Bradley Keiper, Shaun McIlquham and Sandra Belles) keeps the action seamless, while Michael Layton’s simple set works well enough for the many locales. Costumes provided by Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre are indeed one of the pleasures of the show.

Bottomline: An entertaining evening of jokes and physical comedy make this a good start to the 45th B&B season. Curry and Stockberger always provide me with a lesson in stagecraft.

Greater Tuna continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through January 28th. Show times and reservations can be viewed at http://www.beefandboards.com or you may call the box office at  317-872-9664.

  • – Photos by Julie Curry

“A Beef & Boards Christmas” – 2017

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reviewed by Mark Kamish

Dorothy wanted to go over the rainbow, only to discover there is no place like home, and beauty sometimes lies in your own backyard. Sure, I’ve been many times to other Indy holiday favs like IPL’s “Yuletide Celebration” at the ISO and IRT’s A Christmas Carol. Unsure why, especially having lived on the north side now for six years, this is my first time experiencing A Beef & Boards Christmas.

It’s the show’s silver anniversary production this year, for goodness sake. Add to the significance of that milestone the fact that this Indianapolis holiday tradition will not return in 2018 (life is seasons, isn’t it?), I was so glad to have had the opportunity to finally enjoy seeing this heart-warming production with Patricia and Marina. Thanks so much to Patricia Rettig, B&B’s Director of Marketing & Media Relations, as well as to the entire theatre and production staff, for working so hard to ensure that we and the rest of Saturday’s full house had a lovely evening of food, drink and excellent holiday entertainment.

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Santa makes an appearance in “A Beef & Boards Christmas” – 2017.

Doug Stark, owner of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre (and an integral part of this year’s show, donning the red suit to personally extend his heartfelt holiday wishes as jolly old St. Nick himself), reflected by saying, “A Beef & Boards Christmas has been our own original Christmas greeting to our guests for 25 years. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our audiences for making the show part of their holiday tradition.”

And whether you are returning to make A Beef & Boards Christmas part of your family holiday tradition, or are experiencing it for the first time like I am, the cast and crew will not disappoint.

Kenny S

Kenny Shepard hosts the 25th annual “A Beef & Boards Christmas”

Kenny Shepard, who is truly part of the fabric of this show (having performed in it since its second year in 1994 (when it was still called the Beef & Boards Christmas Spectacular) is once again the featured host.

Other faces familiar to Beef & Boards faithful take the stage as well. Principal singers Kyle Durbin, Betsy Norton and Peter Scharbrough all return from the 2016 production. They are joined by Marisa Rivera, who was just seen on stage as Anita in B&B’s production of West Side Story. These four perform the vocal yeoman’s work of this musical variety show beautifully. Norton’s “Tennessee Christmas,” Scharbrough’s “Santa’s Back” (with members of the gorgeous and talented dance ensemble), Rivera’s “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and Durbin’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (the latter two pieces with full Ensemble) were among my favorites.

Renee Jackson - Santa Coming Town

Renée Jackson performs in “A Beef & Boards Christmas” – 2017.

The featured singer this year is Renée Jackson, a Brooklyn-based actress (and Ball State B.F.A. Musical Theatre program alum), who just made her Beef & Boards debut in Ghost, The Musical (as Oda Mae Brown). Her vocal and physical command of the stage is moving. “O Holy Night,” performed with the entire Ensemble, is a showstopper. One often watches professional actors, singers and performers without a thought as to the struggles and hardships they have had to endure and overcome to be onstage. Ms. Jackson’s story certainly sounds to be one of those personal journeys marked with dark days and hurdles. Judging by her performance, she sure seems to have emerged on the other side with grace and radiance.

Quartet

The B&B Christmas Quartet: (from left) Peter Scharbrough, Marisa Rivera, Betsy Norton and Kyle Durbin.

The Ensemble of vibrant and talented singers and dancers include a pair of Carmel sisters (Kari and Maggie Baker), accomplished professional actors, half a score or more of returning B&B veterans and, well, that guy in the red suit and white beard, coming to you directly from the North Pole.

Supporting the show throughout is a fabulous orchestra, perfectly suited for this variety-show format. Thank you, Kristy Templet, Terry Woods, Dorothy McDonald, Rick Hajduk, John Huntoon, Brad Koser, Fred Withrow and Nathan Shaw. You guys and gals are amazing!

Orchestra

The B&B Orchestra is back in full force, skillfully led by Kristy Templet (at left piano).

From familiar songs (some maybe not so familiar) to great choreography to cute sketches to dazzling costumes (and quick costume changes) to feel-good emotions, A Beef & Boards Christmas is, I now know for myself, another great Indianapolis holiday tradition. You owe it to yourself and your family to experience it one more time this season. ‘Cause you never know what you’ve got, ‘til it’s gone.

A Beef & Boards Christmas will continue its run of 36 total performances in the intimate atmosphere of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre through December 23 (and includes Chef Odell Ward’s holiday dinner buffet, fruit & salad bar, unlimited coffee, tea and lemonade – as well as adult beverages and gourmet desserts available for purchase). For more specific information on dates and show times, visit beefandboards.com.

Reservations may be made by calling the box office at (317) 872-9664 anytime between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays.

Merry Christmas!

#bbchristmas2017

  • Photos by Julie Curry

“Ghost The Musical” at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Ghosts, those various spirits, apparitions and other-worldly beings we are endlessly fascinated by, have long been “seen” in entertainments. From Hamlet’s father’s ghost, to Marley’s ghost, to George and Marion Kirby in the movie/television series “Topper”, to Casper in cartoon form, to “we ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts” in “Ghostbusters” and on and on – the spirits of the dead have provided endless story situations in novels, shows, comic books and movies.

In 1990, Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore starred in the film “Ghost” which swept the country as a box-office winner. Ghost The Musical, with book and lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin, and music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, followed with a West End opening in London in the summer of 2011. Now, this production has found its way to haunting the Beef and Boards stage.

Three Little Words

Molly Jensen (Andrea Laxton) and Sam Wheat (Eddie Egan) in a scene from B&B’s “Ghost The Musical.”

Directed by Douglas E. Stark, with musical staging by Ron Morgan, B&B’s production is a decidedly modern stage offering. Set on Michael Layton’s slick set design, with dynamic lighting effects from designer Ryan Koharchik, everything has the feel of a new era style of theatre, raising the bar in B&B’s production history.

The show is very well cast. Eddie Egan and Andrea Laxton make their Beef and Boards debuts starring as Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen, young lovers on the verge of taking the next big step in their relationship when a street confrontation turns everything around. Sam dies, but is left in a phantom state where he cannot leave Molly until he has taken care of the many loose ends his demise has brought about. Egan is impressive in his portrayal of the ghostly Sam. He covers all the emotional bases in his arc with sensitivity and, when necessary, good humor. Ms. Laxton skillfully weathers her emotionally charged course as she is left to lament her fate, highlighted by her mournful “With You” and the hopeful “Nothing Stops Another Day”. These two performers’ voices blend extremely well on a number of shared tunes, and Ms. Laxton, especially, has a smooth vocal quality one could listen to all day.

More

Carl Bruner (Patrick Michael Joyce), center, and ensemble members in a scene from B&B’s “Ghost The Musical.”

Patrick Michael Joyce takes the part of antagonist Carl Bruner, a friend of the couple who has dug an ever deepening hole for himself at his job. Joyce is a perfect choice for the crooked Carl and is well up to the task for all levels of his role. Likewise, Renée Jackson is ideal as psychic medium Oda Mae Brown, who forms a communication connection with Sam and helps solve the problems he has left behind. Ms. Jackson’s far-fetched Oda Mae is delightful, and exquisitely extreme, adding a comic touch to a most often poignant story.

A superb group of supporting ensemble members completes the cast list. B&B veteran John Vessels is brilliant in his characterizations of both the Hospital Ghost and Lionel Ferguson. Joshua L.K. Patterson creates a fierce and psychotic Subway Ghost with unfettered aplomb. Kelly Teal Goyette has great fun as a duped psychic client of Oda Mae Brown, Logan Moore is deadly and intimidating as gunman Willie Lopez,  and Ayana Bey and Christine Zavaskos deftly pair up in their various secondary roles.  Furthermore, this group is charged with skillfully performing the precision-like Ron Morgan choreography on a number of occasions.

Get out of here - leave me alone

Storefront psychic Oda Mae Brown (Renée Jackson) in a scene from B&B’s “Ghost The Musical.”

Jill Kelly Howe’s rich costume designs and Zach Rosings’ visual effects design (just wait until you see the comeuppances in store for the bad guys) complete the picture. And the entire show is enhanced by Terry Woods’ musical direction and the B&B orchestra which features the tear-inspiring work of violinist Kara Day. (Nice job, Ms. Day!)

Bottomline – a refreshingly modern approach to this boy-girl story makes Ghost The Musical a highly worthwhile production. Strong performances by all involved, both onstage and behind the scenes, are noteworthy.

Ghost The Musical continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through November 18th. Show times and reservations can be viewed at http://www.beefandboards.com or you may call the box office at  317-872-9664.

  • – Photos by Julie Curry

 

“West Side Story” at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Beef and Boards’ production of West Side Story, which opened this week, is for me another of those very familiar shows for which I have long held an honest love and appreciation. Brought into the musical theatre world in 1957 with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by a young Stephen Sondheim, the show had so much energetic and romantic appeal that even as a youth, I fell in love with the stylized score, the perfect, heart-rending words and the emotional storyline. It was an undeniable masterpiece and remains so after 60 years.

What director Eddie Curry and choreographer Ron Morgan have brought to B&B’s stage is a faithful yet updated rendition of the classic. This dance rich production pays due homage to Jerome Robbins’ original movements, which were so new to the theatre world in the late 50’s, but here Mr. Morgan opens his own bag of tricks and brings a surprising and imaginative new vision to the work. Mr. Curry innovates with his employment of a reduced cast and a confined setting, still developing engaging relationships and filling the stage with every necessary action, whether it be rumpus or romance.

Somewhere

Maria (Courtney Cheatham) and Tony (Glenn DeVar) imagine a place “Somewhere” where they are free to love in Beef & Boards’ production of “West Side Story”.

All the performances are true. Led by Courtney Cheatham’s Maria and Glenn DeVar as Tony, the talented cast tells this sometimes painful story with impressive abilities. Ms. Cheatham is blessed with an angel’s sweet voice and an innocent countenenace, perfect for the coming of age Maria. DeVar brings a likeable boyishness to his role, finding new range in the part with his fervent approach to Tony’s changing life.

A Young Lady of America

Maria (Courtney Cheatham), left, is excited for the dance she is about to attend with Anita (Marisa Rivera) and her brother Bernardo (Dan Higgins), in Beef & Boards’ production of “West Side Story”.

Marisa Rivera is a sultry Anita, showing strong dance skills and vocal abilities; Dan Higgins is commanding as Maria’s protective brother Bernardo; and Ben Cullen was impressive with his honest performance as Riff, the Jets de facto leader.

Cool

The Jets, led by Riff (Ben Cullen), center, learn to play it “Cool” in Beef & Boards’ production of “West Side Story”.

The dance corps, comprised of Jets, Sharks, and their girls carry out their assignments with aplomb, raising the roof in the many dance numbers and songs they are party to.

Lew Hackleman, Peter Scharbrough and Doug King round out the cast with effective portrayals of Doc, Krupke and Lt. Shranke, respectively.

Doc Im in love

Tony (Glenn DeVar) reassures Doc (Lew Hackleman) that everything will be ok for him and Maria in Beef & Boards’ production of “West Side Story”.

Though much of the show is ensemble in nature, the 5 leads are due ovations for their thoughtful and emotion driven turns onstage. Under director Curry’s deft hand, every familiar song is a joy to experience again, and every well remembered turn of events in the storytelling is offered with truth and depth.

I would be remiss to leave out the contributions of the wonderful orchestra lead by Terry Woods, which delivers the heart of the show through their fine rendering of the complex score. From the first familiar pulses, to the emotive final notes, Mr. Woods and his players give noteworthy performances.

Likewise, Jill Kelly Howe’s costumes give the various characters texture and placement in the world of the street.

Bottomline: I am too often underwhelmed when I attend a show I know so well and love so greatly, but as I sat in the darkness at the end of this production, wiping the moisture from my eyes, I knew this cast had fulfilled my wish for this show to be something special.

West Side Story continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through October 1st. Show times and reservations can be viewed at http://www.beefandboards.com or you may call the box office at  317-872-9664.

* – Photos by Julie Curry

 

 

“Ring of Fire” at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre continues their 2017 season with the Johnny Cash tribute show Ring of Fire. Directed by Curt Wollen, with choreography by Wendy Short-Hays, this highly entertaining and perfectly cast production showcases over 30 of the songs that made The Man in Black one of America’s most beloved performers. Presented as a sectionalized rolling history of Cash, illuminated by music selections from his and others’ catalogues – we become acquainted with his life and times. For want of a term, I would call the show a “biological revue”.

I've Been Everywhere

The entire cast joins in on “I’ve Been Everywhere” during B&B’s production of “Ring of Fire”.

The musical selections move from earnest, to slick, to high-stepping, onto uplifting as we progress through the story of what began as a hard life in Arkansas, moved through the days of hits and kicks, then turned upward to more reverent ideals. Each number is compelling in it’s presentation, whether it be rousing or poignant. This works well to array the varying audience reactions from foot-tapping bliss to choked back emotion.

The wonderfully organized production benefits from the unique cast which has been assembled for it, most of whom make their B&B debuts. The requirements to be in the cast must have been: 1) have recording contract quality vocal talent, 2) be able to play a multitude of stringed instruments, plus a few others, 3) have the exceptional ability to show that you are having so much fun onstage, that we all want you to never stop. This generously talented ensemble of players includes B&B newcomers Melody Allegra Berger, Tim Drake, Allison Kelly, Jeremy Sevelovitz, Travis Smith and Zack Steele. Brian Gunter returns for a third B&B show. Jill Kelly Howe is also a B&B veteran and indeed is also the resident costumer for the theatre.

Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart

Jill Kelly Howe as Minnie Pearl for “Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart” with Brian Gunter on bass and Jeremy Sevelovitz on ukulele during B&B’s production of “Ring of Fire”.

This ensemble of eight talented singing musicians works amazingly well together, especially when blending their voices in close harmony. In fact, their stage presence and easy delivery throughout may have you thinking that they have all been touring this show together for 10 months or more. But that is not the case – they have somehow acquired a remarkable cohesion, which makes the program ever more enjoyable.

Ring of Fire

Allison Kelly joins Travis Smith for a rendition of the title tune in B&B’s production of “Ring of Fire”.

Some highlights in the show include Ms. Howe’s haunting ballad “Far Side Banks of Jordan” and her comical turn with “Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart” (a lá Minnie Pearl); Mr. Drake’s stirring rendition of “Ragged Old Flag”; the ensemble’s lively “Daddy Sang Bass”; and flashy piano and guitar work by Mssrs. Smith and Sevelovitz, respectively. Ms. Berger is an extraordinary fiddle player – and she “burns” her instrument on her featured appearance in the Act Two opening number; Ms. Kelly is tremendous in her renditions as June Carter in “Ring of Fire” and “Jackson”, as well as her soulful solo “All Over Again”; Brian Gunter exhibits his rare musical abilities in countless numbers; and Mr. Steele displays a variety of talents throughout, while he is especially noteworthy in the encore piece, “A Boy Named Sue”.

Oh Come Angel Band

The entire cast blends their voices for “Come Angel Band” in B&B’s production of “Ring of Fire”.

Bottomline: It’s hard to be a critic when there is nothing whatsoever to criticize. This show is fresh, lively entertainment (with a PG rating due to some lyrics about drugs and crimes). Honestly, I think it just may be as fine a show, in terms of musical performance, as I have ever seen at this venue.

Ring of Fire continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through August 13. Show times and reservations can be viewed at http://www.beefandboards.com or call the box office at  317-872-9664.

  • – Photos by Julie Curry

“Shrek – The Musical” at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre

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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre continues its 2017 season with a very ambitious production of Shrek – The Musical. Based on the 2001 DreamWorks film, “Shrek”, the show is directed and choreographed by Ron Morgan, with musical director Terry Woods conducting the lively score. Book and lyrics are by Pulitzer-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire and music is by Jeanine Tesori.

As I say, the show is an ambitious endeavor, especially relating to costuming (provided with many flourishes by Travis Grant and MSMT Costumes), makeup design (accomplished here by the incomparable Daniel Klingler) and wig design (rendered by Kurt Alger). Michael Layton provides the swamp, forest, and castle scenic design, and Ryan Koharchik handles the lighting.

Donkey urges Shrek to Make A Move

From left: Emily Grace Tucker (Fiona), Julius Thomas II (Donkey) and Peter Scharbrough (Shrek) in a scene from Beef & Boards’ production of “Shrek – The Musical”.

Most of the characters from the film come alive onstage, led by Peter Scharbrough as the stoically grumpy ogre, Shrek. Scharbrough overcomes the necessary encumbrance of his extreme makeup to give a fully realized performance. His strong voice is well-suited for the part, and he comes through with a truly fine rendition of Shrek’s various emotions in his quest to save a princess in order to save his swamp. On the way, he meets Donkey, played with an original flair by Julius Thomas III. Thomas manages to incorporate all the silly fun of the movie’s character while never copying the Eddie Murphy depiction. His animated dynamism resulted in many of the laughs the show generated for a younger than normal audience.

Princess Fiona, whose release is the object of Shrek’s travels, gets three portraits in the story-telling. We meet Young Fiona and Teen Fiona – done in brief but skilled portrayals by Emery Allen and Reagan Minnette, and Fiona (the impatiently-waiting-in-a-tower-for-her-prince maiden) in a spirited offering by Emily Grace Tucker. Ms. Tucker finds just the right measure of spunkiness for the princess, topped off by her sensational vocal talents.

What's Up Duloc

John Vessels (as Lord Farquaad, center) and members of the ensemble in a scene from Beef & Boards’ production of “Shrek”.

John Vessels is dastardly and comical as the height-disadvantaged Lord Farquaad. Vessels’ penchant for physical comedy is somewhat stymied by his visually humorous but physically demanding short-guy costume, which seems to put him at a disadvantage at times. His energetic performance is just what is needed though, and he comes through it all in fine stead.

Donkey meets Dragon

From left: Julius Thomas III as Donkey faces Dragon, voiced by Kelly Teal Goyette, in a scene from Beef & Boards’ production of “Shrek – The Musical”.

Kelly Teal Goyette plays a number of roles but is most notable as the voice of Dragon – a huge three-man puppet that dominates the stage during its scenes. Cody Knable ably takes front and center as Pinocchio, complete with a tricky wooden nose. And Sean Seager is a standout as a cross-dressed Big Bad Wolf. At times, there is a stage full of fairy tale characters, well-played by the ensemble of actors and dancers, and by the corps of young school-aged players. A total of 20 performers are needed to tell this story and they are all graced with talented voices and feet.

Freak Flag

Fairy tale characters in a scene from Beef & Boards’ production of “Shrek – The Musical”.

Bottomline: This may have been a tough show to mount, but with rare exception B&B has given us a superb event for kids and family. Some great features for young audience members are that the story is so familiar, and that all the characters come to life with such vivid panache.

Shrek – The Musical continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through July 2nd. Show times and reservations can be viewed at http://www.beefandboards.com or you may call the box office at  317-872-9664.

  • – Photos by Julie Curry

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