Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Cast Album Discoveries: Shrek the Musical

I've been alternating the albums in my Top 150 Albums By Women project with cast albums, so I'll share my favorite five from these as I listen to them as well. 

I really only ever knew one or two songs from the Broadway musical adaptation of Shrek, so I figured I should listen to the rest of it. Let me say first off, this is not a good musical but it's a listenable cast recording because Brian D'Arcy James does all the vocal and emotional heavy lifting here, much like Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen. He sings each song so beautifully it's easier to overlook the cheesy lyrics and mostly-blah melodies. (Seriously, the creative team behind this show are so much better than this. What happened?!)

My five favorites, all of which I do enjoy at least partially:

5. This Is Our Story

My favorite thing about the Shrek story (and I do love the movie) is that it sets up a nontraditional female lead. Sure, she starts out pretty traditional, but by the end it makes the (super rare) point that a not-obviously-pretty woman can still find love and happiness. This song does a pretty good job of capturing the best part of that ending, even though some of the lyrics are pretty cheesy along the way.

4. Don't Let Me Go

While a LOT of these lyrics are pretty bad, the performance energy and upbeat music goes a long way to making it a fun one to listen to anyway.

3. Big Bright Beautiful World (Reprise)

This is a nice reprise because the original version began the show and set the tone of cynicism and having barriers against people, and this is just a lovely, vulnerable little tune of a character coming out of that mindset and professing his love, even though he's not sure it would work. Like I said, Brian D'arcy James really sells these moments!

2. Travel Song

So this one probably wouldn't land this high except I really, really enjoy the musical theatre technique where two characters each have an individual verse to sing and then they sing them both at the same time. Like, that's one of my favorite things and I love it way too much. (They do it in "I Think I Got You Beat" in this show as well, but that song also has like 45 seconds of burping and farting sounds, so... nah.) This one is just jaunty and enjoyable and fluffy.

1. Build a Wall

I am in no way surprised that this won. It was the only one of these top five that I already knew, and I liked it a bit already, but it has the fewest awkward lyrics of the whole show and it allows Brian D'Arcy James to act the heck out of it and make me genuinely care about his character. It's the only one of these that I'm likely to actually add into my regular listening rotation.

Anybody out there really love this show? Or really hate it? Share your thoughts and your own favorites in the comments!

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