What Audiences Should Know
Shrek the Musical
Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Age Recommendation: 6+
All of the violence, both onstage and offstage, could be described as “comical fantasy violence” (swords, pitchforks and dragon breath). The show opens with a musical number about Shrek and Fiona as children: Seven year-old Shrek gets kicked out of his house and avoids gets burned at the stake by scaring away the angry mob. Little Fiona gets locked up in her tower. Fairy tale creatures are comically force-marched off their land by armed soldiers and are under threat of execution if they return. Lord Farquaad tortures Gingy into revealing information about Princess Fiona – threatening to remove his gumdrop buttons. Fiona’s accidentally and comically injures animals singing back up for her (a bluebird explodes in a “poof” of feathers). Knights hang by wrist shackles on the wall of the dungeon in Fiona’s tower and sing backup. Very young children might be startled by the dragon attacks, but all of them, including the final one that gets rid of Lord Farquaad, are highly theatrical.
The action of the plot revolves around the fairy tale notion of true love. Shrek and Fiona have several comic “kids falling in love”-type actions: playfully shoving each other, bumping heads when they bend down, awkward close silences, etc. before their final “true love’s kiss.” Most children will miss the jokes and innuendo aimed at adults, such as the running joke about Lord Farquaad’s height and his attempts to compensate.
This show is written with a mixture of satiric jokes using pop culture references aimed at adults and a combination of slapstick and body humor aimed at kids. The body humor (farting, belching, etc.) are a part of how the story shows that ogres are “uncivilized” and proud of it. Much of the show’s message is about treating people who are different than yourself with respect and so there are many examples of mocking and self-deprecating humor. The fairy tale creatures are ridiculed as “freaks”, often hurl personal insults at each other, and the ogres are described as ugly, vicious monsters. At the end of the show, when many of the characters own the names that were used to hurt them, they transform what was hurtful into a celebration of self.
There is very mild use of obscene or offensive language – see the list below for details.
D*mn: spoken once
G*d: spoken 3 times
*ss/*ssine: spoken 3 times (always in reference to Donkey)
H*ll: spoken 2 times
Drinkings, drugs & smoking
There is a single reference to illegal substances: Shrek makes a joke about Fiona eating “funny” mushrooms when she appears to be in a changed mood at the beginning of Act II.
Families Can Talk About...
Shrek, The Musical provides a good opportunity to speak with young people about the dangers of making judgements about people based on what others say or on how they first appear.