Shrek on the Broadway Stage
If the three movie versions weren't enough for you, now you can catch Shrek on the Great White Way. The loveable green ogre makes his stage debut in Shrek The Musical, now playing at NYC's Broadway Theatre. The show opened in previews this week and I was there last night. Here's a recap:
The creative team did a wonderful job of translating the show from an animated film to a full on Broadway production. Shrek, played by Brian D'arcy James, plays the role dead-on. The costuming is done so elaborately well that you often forget the story came from an animation to begin with. One of the movie's most adored characters — Donkey — is hilariously played by Daniel Breaker. Nearly every line of his had the audience cracking up. There's plenty of humor for the 18+ crowd mixed in with the gentle, G-rated nature of the show as a whole.
Broadway superstar Sutton Foster plays the role of Princess Fiona. She's down-to-earth, quirky and can belt out tunes like "I Know It's Today" and "Morning Person" with an unprecedented ease. It's no wonder she's such a sought-after performer in the Broadway world. She's also gorgeous, as a princess and an ogre.
For me, the best parts of the show were those involving the fairy tale characters, who get banned from Duloc at the demands of Lord Farquaad. In the January 2009 issue of Dance Spirit, we even have a Q&A with ensemble member Denny Paschall, who plays the role of Peter Pan (among many others throughout the show). He's amazingly talented and a gifted singer and dancer. Keep an eye out for this rising star!
Lord Farquaad was the crowd favorite last night. Played by Christopher Sieber (you may remember him as Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen's dad on "Two of a Kind"), he's so funny with his "Daddy issues" and short-person complex.
My one gripe about the show is that it's two and a half hours long. I'm hoping that by the time the show opens, it's shorter. The scenery is great, the costuming is wonderful and the music is singalong-worthy. But two and a half hours after Donkey and the ogre first took the stage, I was in dire need of a nap!
There are dancers and then there are DANCERS! Whitney Jensen, soloist at Norwegian National Ballet, is the latter. The former Boston Ballet principal can do it all. From contemporary to the classics this prima has the technical talent most bunheads dream about. Need proof? Look no further.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's dance inducing hit, "Despacito," is so catchy it should probably come with a disclaimer that warns people of an uncontrollable itch to tap your feet or bob your head. Some might even feel inclined to go all out and break it down. Niana Guerrero is a prime example of "Despacito's" uncanny ability to unleash the red dressed emoji dancer within. 💃🏽 💃🏽
Guys, we all knew this was coming—"World of Dance" was eventually going to eliminate someone. But man, is it brutal to watch these talented dancers give their all, only to be sent home. It's the name of the game, though, and after last night's episode, only two dancers per division remain. (At least Misty Copeland guest-judging was a silver lining!) Here's what went down last night:
They've impressed the judges, now it's time for the Top 100 dancers to enroll at The Academy—and to impress the All-Stars. Welcome to So You Think You Can Dance Academy!
The 100 dancers who made it through auditions in NYC or L.A. are now at The Academy, which is basically a beautiful building with floor-to-ceiling windows. The show opens with that Mandy Moore-choreographed Academy routine which, even after watching it 12 times and trying to learn all the choreography at home, is still delightful.
This Nationals season, Dance Spirit followed four talented dancers from The Dance Awards, NYCDA, Showstopper, and Starpower for an inside look at everything that goes into the biggest competitions of the year. First up: Isabella Torres from Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts in Baltimore, MD, who competed at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals for the first time this year. (All photos courtesy Shannon Torres.)
Merritt Moore is a ballerina who just so happens to be graduating from Oxford University with a PhD in quantum physics. Is she even human? The jury is still out on that - but the 29-year-old, who earned her undergrad degree from Harvard, has actually found dance to be a powerful tool that assists her in her studies.
Happy #WorldEmojiDay, dance friends! 🎉 👯 🎉 👯
Because it's just the cutest, we thought we'd share the emoji challenge the Royal Opera House is currently hosting on Twitter. They've retold a series of ballets (and operas, for that crowd) in emoji form. If you correctly guess the name of a ballet, you'll be entered for a chance to win two tickets to a ROH production.