It suddenly occurred to me that Shrek is closing today and that I hadn't really made much mention of it, other than a Twitter post when the closure announcement first came. Kinda tells you something about the lasting impression that the show has made on my consciousness.
As I said I my review, I actually sort of enjoyed Shrek, particularly the talented cast of Broadway stalwarts, including Brian d'Arcy James, Christopher Sieber, Sutton Foster, and relative newcomer Daniel Breaker. The show was reasonably entertaining, although there were some rather poorly staged sequences when I saw the show early in previews.
The main problem for me was, and remains, the lackluster songs by Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire. Other than "I Know It's Today," there really isn't any song in the show that has stuck, for me at least. I think if the score had been more overtly tuneful and memorable, Shrek might have been a winner. The story is certainly very strong, the cast was exemplary, and most of the production elements were solidly in place. "Family" shows really live or die based on the appeal of the actual songs in the show, and Shrek just didn't have the "wow" factor in the score department.
I'll be very interested to see if David Lindsay-Abaire continues to get offers to write musicals. Both Dreamworks and Disney have had mixed results in bringing on the pedigree playwrights to work on their would-be blockbusters. Experience seems to have shown that writing a mass-appeal musical (Shrek) is quite different from crafting a Pulitzer-Prize-winning drama (Rabbit Hole). Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife) had similar challenges with The Little Mermaid, although he did fare much better with Grey Gardens. And David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly) has likewise met with both relative success (Aida) and a decided lack thereof (Tarzan). So, I don't think we're going to see these guys disappear entirely from musical creative rosters, but producers will likely think more carefully before they blithely assume that the skill sets for crafting effective plays and winning librettos are necessarily transferable.
Next up at the Broadway Theater was supposed to be the upcoming revival of Promise, Promises, directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford, with Sean Hayes as Chuck, Kristin Chenoweth as Fran, Brooks Ashmanskas as Dobitch, Katie Finneran as Marge MacDougall, and Tony Goldwyn as Sheldrake. But I've heard (totally unsubstantiated) rumors that the producers are looking for a different venue. Perhaps, now that more theaters are starting to open up -- including the Neil Simon, the St. James, the Marquis, and the Golden -- the producers are looking for something a bit more intimate than the barn that is the Broadway. Andrew Lloyd Webber is said to have his eye on the Neil Simon for Love Never Dies, and the Golden is probably way too small. But the St. James and the Marquis are certainly possibilities.
As for Shrek, Dreamworks has been very tight-lipped about the total cost for the production, but it's very likely to be well north of $20 million, perhaps even $25 million, given the weekly operating losses the show has reportedly been incurring. There's no way the show recouped on Broadway, but a national tour will embark this summer. Might Shrek eke out a profit in the provinces, much as Disney is (realistically?) hoping to do with The Little Mermaid and Mel Brooks is (laughably?) hoping to do with Young Frankenstein? If I find out, you, dear reader, will be the first to know.