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We Love Dulac (donkey and all)!

Theater in Millbrook
by Kevin T. McEneaney
Sat Mar 19th, 2016

According to the Millbrook High School production of the musical Shrek, Dulac is located just off the Taconic Parkway. This utopian community features an ogre, a princess, a donkey, and a fire-breathing dragon, as well as a host of the most bizarre fairy tale creatures you can imagine. 

The movie Shrek was based upon a 1990 children's book by William Steig, which in turn was inspired by the 1672 Pentamerone of Giambattista Basile, who wrote amusing and risqué stories in the argot of Neapolitan cut-throat gangsters. The 2001 movie Shrek remains one of the great American movies of the 21st century.

Peter Kollmar as Shrek does a credible job of imitating Mike Myers' caustic Belfast accent from the film. Kollmar is especially moving in the final scenes. Tabatha McMahon plays bipolar Princess Fiona with vivid animation and sings in tune with emotional abandon. George Ouimet as Lord Farquaad belts out his song with clear diction, despite the handicap of singing from his knees. Erica Gartelmann as the Dragon wrings seething drama with her stage presence, while her singing is so superb one wishes she had more solos. As Donkey, Emma Lagno performs the most difficult role of the play in a chameleon collage of rollercoaster accents to conjure bewildering charm from thick donkey skin. Tessa Fountain excels as the talking puppet Pinocchio.

A host of actors play double and triple roles. I was struck by the dancing blonde bombshell tap-dancing routine of the bewigged girls of Dulac, as well as the best three dancing rats I have seen in years. The scene in the movie (not in the play) where the fairy tale creatures wish to crown the ogre offers a clever tribute to Basile, who invented the ogre (they were unpredictably good or bad). Kudos to co-directors Alexis Bresnahan and Chelsea Edson for the realization of a difficult play to stage.

I took offense at the satiric misrepresentation of  a donkey which was obviously based upon the most famous donkey in Millbrook, Sylvester, who not only writes for this newspaper, but is a Presidential candidate of the utmost integrity. The donkey in this play employs Freudian psychological guile and clever stage tricks--something that Sylvester's ruthless opponents indulge in. 

The production concludes this weekend and I recommend that every citizen of Millbrook attend, despite the outrageous misrepresentation of Sylvester. There's enough silliness and charm here to enliven the most jaded horse-breeders and accountants. You, too, will discover that you will be applauding an ogre, princess, dragon, an imbecilic ruler, and even that wittily wise donkey.