Theater Info for Maryland

Toby’s Dinner Theatre Shrek the Musical

By • May 1st, 2014 • Category: Reviews
Shrek the Musical
Toby’s Dinner Theatre: (Info) (Web)
Toby’s Dinner Theatre-Columbia, Columbia, Md
Through June 22nd
2:15 with intermission
$51-$56/$38 Children
Reviewed April , 2014

Things are certainly “looking up” at Toby’s. They are winning over audiences with a professional, high-energy production of the family friendly Shrek. With stunning costumes, creative use of the space, detailed lighting design, and a host of stellar performances, there are many good reasons to catch this exciting production before it is too late.

As Shrek, Russell Sunday is the true emotional glue that holds the production together. He sails through his vocal numbers with a rich, strong and perfectly pitched instrument. He brings Shrek to life with laughter and tears, creating a believable and loveable hero.

Calvin McCullough makes an interesting choice with Donkey. He does not often act or sing the role in the predictable homage to Eddie Murphy (film) and Daniel Breaker (Broadway). He creates his own donkey, landing some punch lines differently and creating new vocal intonations. It was a risky decision that paid off beautifully. McCullough’s Donkey is a fresh and stunning take on the character that makes every moment fresh.

Another performance that just nails it is Jeffrey Shankle as Lord Farquaad. Shankle’s comedic timing and expression are flawless. Every moment on stage is a delightful dance of tongue-in-cheek humor with the audience. He also moves incredibly gracefully on his knees for the entire production.

The only lead who misses the mark is Coby Kay Callahan as Fiona. Callahan tries too hard to nail an impression of Sutton Foster that she comes across clownish in her performance. Rather than showing a genuine side of Fiona or achieving comedy through character, she is stifled and too much all at the same time. Additionally, the vocals are just too big for her voice, and she ends up over-singing and almost screaming to try to achieve the necessary high belt. This is in direct contrast to the brief performance of Amanda Kaplan as Teen Fiona, who shows exactly how to create comedy without trying too hard and make a difficult song look simple by nailing it effortlessly. Luckily, there is so much wonderful about the performances of Sunday, McCullough, and Shankle, that the Callahan debacle can be forgotten and overlooked in the larger context.

The entire ensemble is strong in vocals, dance, and creating interesting bit characters. One truly notable standout is Ashley Johnson who kills with her insane vocals as the Voice of the Dragon. She has a truly remarkable voice and tells infinite stories with just her voice.

This is definitely a production to be sure to see. It is family friendly and fun, and you won’t be disappointed.


  • Shrek: Russell Sunday
  • Princess Fiona: Coby Kay Callahan
  • Donkey: Calvin McCullough
  • Lord Farquaad: Jeffrey Shankle
  • Mama Bear/Voice of the Dragon/Voice of the Bird/Ensemble: Ashley Johnson
  • Pinocchio/Ensemble: Shane McCauley
  • Queen Lillian/Sugar Plum/Gingy/Blind Mouse/Ensemble: Heather Marie Beck
  • Mama Ogre/Humpty Dumpty/Ensemble: Tierra Strickland
  • Papa Ogre/Papa Bear/Bishop/Ensemble: Dean Davis
  • King Harold/Big Bad Wolf/Pied Piper/Ensemble: David Jennings
  • Fairy Godmother/Blind Mouse/Ensemble: Tina DeSimone
  • Ugly Duckling/Blind Mouse/Ensemble: MaryKate Brouillet
  • Pig #1/Ensemble: Antonio Beverly
  • Pig #2/Ensemble: Nurney
  • Pig #3/Thelonius/Ensemble: Matt Greenfield
  • Peter Pan/Ensemble: AJ Whittenberger
  • Elf/Teen Fiona/Ensemble: Amanda Kaplan
  • Wicked Witch/Ensemble: Jamie Ogden
  • Captain/Mad Hatter/Ensemble: Ariel Messeca
  • White Rabbit/Duloc Announcer/Ensemble: Ellie Borzilleri
  • Young Shrek/Dwarf: Anderson Franco or Gavin Willard
  • Young Fiona/Baby Bear: Caroline Otchet or Samantha Yakaitis
  • Dragon Puppeteers: Ellie Borzilleri, AJ Whittenberger, & Ariel Messeca


  • Conductor/Keyboard 1: Douglas Lawler or Pamela Witt
  • Keyboard 2: Ann Prizzi or Barry Hamilton
  • Drums: Tom Harold or Jack Loercher
  • Trumpet: Frank Gorecki or Tony Neenan
  • Bass: Jason Wilson or Linda Cote
  • Woodwinds: Steve Haaser or Charlene McDaniel

Production Staff

  • Co-Directors: Kevin McAllister & Lawrence B. Munsey
  • Co-Musical Directors: Douglas Lawler & Pamela Witt
  • Choreographer: Shalyce Hemby
  • Scenic Designer: David A. Hopkins
  • Costume Designers: Lawrence B. Munsey & Janine Sunday
  • Dragon Puppet: Penny Lemire
  • Costume Assistants: Janine Sunday, Mary Quinn, Della Lotman, Penny Lemire
  • Lighting Designer: Lynn Joslin
  • Sound Designer: Drew Dedrick
  • Production Manager: Vickie S. Johnson
  • Production Stage Manager: Kate Wackerle
  • Stage Managers: Drew Dedrick, Kate Wackerle
  • Technical Director: Jimmy Engelkemier
  • Master Carpenter: David A. Hopkins
  • Set Construction: David A. Hopkins, Russell Sunday
  • Properties & Set Dressing: Amy Kaplan
  • Light Board Operators: Coleen M. Foley, Heather Williams
  • Sound Board Operators: Drew Dedrick, Jimmy Engelkemier
  • Stage Crew: Laura Blasi, Jason Britt, Erin MacDonald, Amber Masters

Disclaimer: Toby’s Dinner Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

Tagged as: , ,

This article can be linked to as:

has been involved in theatre in the state of Maryland and DC for most of her life. She has acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and held a million other odd jobs. She has a B.S. in English from Towson University, and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree to become a Reading Specialist. She is a Maryland State Certified English, Theatre, Elementary, and Mathematics Educator. After teaching English and Drama for many years, she now teaches 6th grade Language Arts at Magnolia Middle School in Harford County, Maryland. She wrote the curriculum currently used in Prince George’s County Public Schools for Drama I and Drama II. She now writes and directs plays and musicals for use in church.