Shrek the Musical has its moments, but in the end, it contradicts its own message that substance trumps what’s on the surface, writes Ben Brantley in the New York Times. The “leaden” show presents a “cavalcade of storybook effigies” that “feels like 40 blocks’ worth of a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” Brantley notes. Still, its romantic leads score, transforming “glowery friction into dewy-eyed romance.”
The protagonists lead you to “rooting for this demonstrably well-meaning show, which avoids cynicism and opens its veins,” observes Chris Jones in the Chicago Tribune. Still, the show “just can't sufficiently relax into itself.” At times, it’s “extremely lovable,” but “the fact that Shrek makes us think more about its market than its achievements, alas, says something about” its “shortage of real inspiration,” writes Linda Winer in Newsday.