And then there are the songs — nearly 20 of them — to give this an extra dimension from the animated version. They run an odd gamut, from tending to be lame at the beginning when we need to get captivated, to some pretty compelling ones later on when we're already invested in the characters. One of the best is "Forever," a song by the dragon (voiced by Kelly Teal Goyette) for Fiona's rescue, which has the bonus of four knights in stocks serving as her doo-wop backup. (That dragon is the most spectacular element of this musical, given swooping life by four handlers in bunraku black.)

Most of the songs that work well do so because they develop or amplify characters. Fiona's bright optimism is underscored by "Morning Person," which opens the second act. "The Ballad of Lord Farquaad" is a dark-humor stitch, as he explains that Grumpy the dwarf was his daddy. We even understand Shrek's feelings better through "Gonna Build a Wall."

Shrek the Musical may lack an exclamation point, but it doesn't really need one. Any consequent exclaiming will take care of itself.

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