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NEW YORK — If you don't think flatulence is funny, chances are you won't buy the theory that it also can be a means of seduction.
Ah, well, your loss. Because when the stinky, cranky, altogether irresistible title character of Shrek the Musical (***½out of four) falls in love, scatological humor inevitably is involved. And the romance is as poignant as the jokes are, well, pungent.
Like other musical adaptations of hit films, Shrek, which opened Sunday at the Broadway Theatre, leans heavily on winking satire. There are the usual nods to more fully realized shows, from Gypsy to A Chorus Line, and Jeanine Tesori's blandly ingratiating score doesn't feature any songs you're likely to be humming 20 years from now.
But Shrek, which draws from William Steig's book about a lovable ogre and the DreamWorks animated movie that it inspired, is nonetheless a triumph of comic imagination with a heart as big and warm as Santa's. It is the most ingeniously wacky, transcendently tasteless Broadway musical since The Producers, and more family-friendly than that gag-fest.
Producers director/choreographer Susan Stroman's exhilarating work was an obvious reference point for Shrek director Jason Moore, who is gloriously abetted by set, costume and puppet designer Tim Hatley. There are tap-dancing rats, a female dragon with soulful eyes (and a throbbing libido) and, in human form, an array of drolly determined fairy-tale outcasts who share Shrek's quest to fit in without conforming.