SHREK Jr. The Musical
by William Steig
Performed in English
Shrek is a musical based on the illustrated book Shrek!, written by William Steig, and on the DreamWorks animation movie of 2001. The music is by Jeanine Tesori, while the libretto and lyrics are by David Lindsay-Abaire. William Steig (1907-2003), illustrator, sculptor and writer, was a freelance designer for the New Yorker who, from 1968 dedicated his work to literature for children, writing more than 30 books. The most well-known remains Shrek!, published in 1990. The musical made its debut on Broadway on 3rd November, in 2008, and had 441 consecutive encore performances before it left for a long tour across the United States. The cost of its luxurious staging was almost 25 million dollars, but despite the success it couldn’t recoup the production expenses. In 2011, a version was performed in London’s West End with a following tour around UK, after which there followed performances in other countries: Poland, Spain, Brazil, the Philippines, Italy, Sweden, Estonia…
The ogre Shrek lives alone in a little house in the middle of the swamp. However, his solitude suddenly ends the day when characters of various fairy tales, such as Pinocchio, the bad wolf, and Peter Pan invade his home after having been exiled from the kingdom of Duloc by the cruel Lord Farquaad. Longing to have his privacy again, Shrek hits the road in the company of Donkey in order to go and convince Lord Farquaad to give back to the exiles their own homes. However, Lord Farquaad is expecting to become the next king of Duloc and has just discovered that in order to obtain the throne he has to marry a princess. His choice is princess Fiona who, at that moment, is unfortunately kept imprisoned in a tower by a ferocious Dragon. Shrek has to free her before the fairytales’ characters may be admitted again in the kingdom. After succeeding with that difficult challenge, Shrek and Donkey take the princess to her husband-to-be. However, during the journey love grows between the ogre and Fiona that neither of them dare confess to each other. Just before arriving back in the kingdom Donkey finds out that princess Fiona, during the night, and due to a spell, turns into an horrible ogre… something extremely favorable in her love for Shrek. That said, before living “happily ever ugly” the two protagonists have to overcome various misunderstandings. The happy ending would not be, as in every fairytale, worth respect without the punishment of the bad characters: Lord Farquaad is killed by the Dragon that has fallen in love with Donkey, and Fiona will be forever in an ogre by Shrek’s side.
Shrek Jr. The Musical brings to the theatrical scene the weird, much loved, characters created by Dream Works: led by the petulant and awkward ogre, there is Donkey (a talking donkey), princess Fiona (a princess a with personality and… who is green, but still a princess!), a lovesick spitfire Dragon, Lord Farquaad (a real concentration of viciousness), and a group of classic Disney characters with determined and funny attitudes. The director, Daryl Branch (The Beatles, Guys & Dolls Jr., Hamlet, Grease), stays faithful to the spirit of the cult animated cartoon: the surroundings evoke the typical and coloured fabled landscape, with connections to its characteristic elements (above all the fetid swamp!) that made Shrek unique among all animation movies. The costumes make the characters identification immediate from their very first appearance, thanks to the details that made the protagonists real icons, and that the audience will recognise on first sight. With extravagant songs, all sang live, the choreographer Sophie Emma Bastock (Guys & Dolls Jr., Hamlet, Grease) guides the young mother tongue performers in choreographies, both funny and enjoyable, to give a big optical impact.
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