On his seventh birthday, Shrek's parents kick the young ogre out of their house and into the cruel world ("Big Bright Beautiful World"). They warn him that because of his looks, everyone will hate him, and he won't have a happy ending. Later, a now embittered, hardened Shrek is living contentedly alone in a swamp. But his solitude is disrupted when all the fairy-tale beings of the land begin showing up on his property, exiled from the Kingdom of Duloc by order of Lord Farquaad ("Story of My Life"). Shrek decides to travel to see Farquaad to try to regain his privacy ("The Goodbye Song") and along the way reluctantly rescues a talkative Donkey from some of the Lord's goons. Donkey insists on tagging along ("Don't Let Me Go").
Meanwhile, the diminutive Lord Farquaad is torturing the Gingerbread Man into revealing the whereabouts of the remaining fairy tale creatures in hiding when his guards arrive with the one magical item he's been searching for for years-the Magic Mirror. Upon asking if Duloc is the most perfect kingdom of them all, the Mirror informs him that Duloc is not a kingdom because Farquaad is technically not a king, but can become one if he marries a princess. Farquaad chooses the "perfect" Princess Fiona from three "eligible bachelorettes" but rushes out before the Mirror can explain "the little thing that happens after sunset". The Mirror shows us outcast seven-year-old Princess Fiona dreaming of the brave knight who, her storybooks tell her, will one day rescue her from her tower, and end her mysterious curse with "True Love's First Kiss". As she grows into a teenager, and then a headstrong woman, she becomes a little bit stir crazy, but never loses her faith in her fairy tales ("I Know It's Today").
Shrek and Donkey arrive in Duloc ("Welcome to Duloc") and make their way to Farquaad's palace, disrupting a kingdom-wide lottery to choose the "brave knight" who will finally rescue Princess Fiona from her castle (which is surrounded by lava and protected by a fire-breathing dragon,) so that Farquaad may marry her and thus become a legitimate King ("What's Up, Duloc?"). Shrek impresses Farquaad with his size, appearance, and "expendability," and the ogre agrees to undertake the rescue in exchange for the deed to his swamp.
Shrek and Donkey set off to find Fiona ("Travel Song"), seeing many strange things on the way including Puss in Boots, a rabbit (who promptly runs away screaming after Shrek says he looks delicious), a cow jumping over the moon and a dish running away with a spoon (referencing the nursery rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle) and an African style giraffe head and a wheel with gazelles on it (that references the Broadway musical version of "The Lion King"). After crossing the rickety old bridge and arriving at the castle, Shrek sets off alone to rescue Fiona while Donkey encounters the guardian she-Dragon, who sees him as a tasty snack ("Donkey Pot Pie"). Donkey charms the fire-breathing creature by complimenting her teeth, and escapes death momentarily. When Shrek finds Fiona, his lack of interest in playing out her desired, romantic rescue scene annoys her, and Shrek must drag her off by force. The two of them reunite with Donkey and all three attempt to escape while being chased by the angry Dragon and her skeletons ("This is How a Dream Comes True"). Once they are safe, Fiona insists that Shrek reveal his identity. She is appalled that her rescuer is an ogre, and not the Prince Charming her stories promised. Shrek explains that he is merely her champion; instead, she is to wed Lord Farquaad. As the trio begins their journey back to Farquaad's palace, the Princess is frightened by the setting sun and insists that they rest for the night and that she spend the night, alone, in a nearby cave. Donkey and Shrek remain awake and Donkey, delighted at being referred to by Fiona as a "noble steed," asks Shrek who he would be, if he didn't have to be an ogre anymore. As Shrek opens up to his new friend, Fiona stands apart and alone in the moonlight and listens, transformed into an ogre. ("Who I'd Be")
The next day, Princess Fiona admits to being a "Morning Person" as she sings with a bluebird and dances with a deer(before making the bird explode and throwing the deer off a cliff) and assists a Pied Piper in his rat-charming duties. Shrek brings down her mood by attempting to give subtle hints about her groom-to-be ("Men of Farquaad's stature are in short supply","He's very good at small talk", etc.) and mocking her tragic childhood circumstances. The two begin a contest of one-up-man-ship, each trying to out-do the other by revealing their respective pasts ("I Think I Got You Beat"). Both admit to being thrown out by their parents; this connection, as well as bonding over a love of disgusting bodily noises, kindles friendship.
Meanwhile, back in Duloc, Lord Farquaad plans his wedding, and reveals his own sordid heritage ("The Ballad of Farquaad") after the Mirror asks him if his father should be on the guest list. As Shrek and Fiona's new-found camraderie grows into love, Donkey insists, with the help of the Three Blind Mice, that Shrek should gather his courage and he should "Make a Move". Shrek, finally beginning to come out of his caustic, protective shell, tries to find the words to explain his feelings to Fiona ("When Words Fail").
While Shrek is out finding a flower for Fiona, Donkey discovers that Fiona turns into an ogress at night, and she confesses that she was cursed as a child, which is why she was locked away in the tower. Only a kiss from her true love will return her to her proper form. Shrek arrives near the end of the conversation and misunderstands Fiona's description of herself as an ugly beast to be referencing him. Hurt by her presumed opinion, Shrek stalks off. The next day, transformed back to her human form, Fiona tries to explain her curse to Shrek, who rebuffs her ("Morning Person Reprise"). During the night, Shrek went to fetch Lord Farquaad, who arrives now to claim Princess Fiona (he changes the name of the "pretty pony" he rides in each performance-some names have included Condoleeza, Plastic Horse, Sprinkles, Beyonce, Queen Latifah and Fiberglass). While not very impressed with Farquaad, Fiona agrees to marry him and insists that they have the wedding before sunset. As they ride back to Duloc, Donkey tries to explain the misunderstanding to Shrek, (who's too angry to listen), and Shrek rejects him as well, declaring that he will return to his swamp alone and "Build a Wall" against the outside world, be what the world says he should be--a monster--and never allow himself to feel any kind of love again.
The fairy-tale creatures, now headed for a land-fill which is to be their new home, decide Farquaad's treatment of them is intolerable. Just because they are freaks, doesn't mean they deserve to be hated. Pinocchio, Gingy, the Three Little Pigs, and all the others gather new confidence in themselves and strength as they declare they'll raise their "Freak Flag" high against their tormentors.
Shrek returns to his again-private swamp, but he misses Fiona. Donkey follows him back, and convinces Shrek of his friendship by forgiving the ogre for his harsh words. Shrek apologizes, and Donkey convinces him that Fiona really cares for the ogre. Both of them hurry back to Duloc. Shrek interrupts the wedding before Farquaad can kiss Fiona, and Fiona convinces him to let Shrek speak with her. Shrek finally finds the words that he's been searching for, and declares his love for Fiona, and his desire to share his "Big Bright Beautiful World (Reprise)" with her. His declaration of love is mocked by Lord Farquaad. Fiona, caught between love and her desire to break the curse tries to run away, but just then the exiled fairy-tale beings crash the wedding and protest their banishment. They are accompanied by a grumpy little dwarf, who is, in fact, Farquaad's father. Farquaad claimed earlier that Grumpy abandoned him in the woods as a child, but the dwarf reveals the true reason he kicked Farquaad out - he was 28 and living in Grumpy's basement. During the commotion, the sun sets, causing Fiona to turn into an ogress in front of everyone. Farquaad, furious and disgusted over the change, orders Shrek killed and Fiona banished back to her tower. As Farquaad proclaims himself the new king, Shrek whistles for the Dragon (she escaped the castle and followed Donkey back to the swamp), who crashes through the window with Donkey and swallows Farquaad. Shrek and Fiona admit their love for each other and share a kiss; Fiona's curse is broken and she takes her true form: an ogress. She is ashamed of her looks, but Shrek declares that she is still beautiful. The two live happily ever after and everyone celebrates ("This is Our Story/Finale").
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