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Ogre charms Hays crowd with performance on stage

With its towering fantasy sets and technicolor costumes, "Shrek, the Musical" charmed a packed house at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center on Tuesday night.

An Encore Series presentation, the musical retold the animated 2001 DreamWorks film story of a misunderstood ogre in living 3-D.

Moving from one lavish scene to another with impeccable timing, the lighting, sets and characters seemed to flow effortlessly as though one were curled up in bed thumbing through a storybook.

The supporting cast of boisterous fairyland inhabitants brought exuberance to their roles and certainly made it plausible they could be a source of annoyance to Shrek after the mixed bag of characters sought refuge in Shrek's swamp.

Irresistible in his pompousness, Christian Marriner as Lord Farquaad was larger-than-life in his role of the diminutive king wanna-be. With cloth legs sewn into the front of his costume, Marriner danced on his knees throughout the production, in what had to be a choreographic challenge.

Princess Fiona, isolated in her tower, magically was transitioned from young girl, Jane Margaret Turner, to teenager, Schuyler Midgett, to adult, Whitney Winfield, during the lovely song, "I Know It's Today." The three Fionas joined in harmony to tell the sad, yet hopeful story of a life spent waiting for a prince.

Grown-up Fiona was an energetic, sprite-like character who cavorted comfortably with the big green guy. The two characters had an engaging chemistry that made audience members hope the couple soon would realize their intertwined destinies.

Speaking of the green guy, Perry Sook was a solid Shrek, agile in his ogreliness, yet vulnerable and likeable with an engaging tenor voice.

The enormous dragon puppet stole the tower scenes, with its lush music sung by Courtney Daniels. It was easy to see why Donkey developed a crush on the enchanting creature.

Jeremy Gaston as Donkey brought a mix of neurosis and brotherly warmth to his role. In "Make a Move," Gaston and three provocative blind mice were wildly entertaining.

"Shrek, the Musical" was great entertainment, with just enough baudy humor and fairy tale wonder to keep its audience wishing for more.

Dawne Leiker is a reporter at The Hays Daily News