ENGAGING TALE - Brendan Hutchinson

ENGAGING TALE - Brendan Hutchinson

RDC theatre students present Shrek – The Musical

Local fans of Shrek will have the chance to see the popular character shine in a whole new light via a production of Shrek – The Musical which opens Nov. 26th on the Arts Centre’s mainstage.

Directed by Thomas Bradshaw with lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori, the show runs through to Dec. 5th. Curtain is at 7 p.m. There are also weekend public matinees on Nov. 28th and Dec. 5th at 1 p.m.

“Once upon a time, there was a little ogre named Shrek.

“And thus begins the tale of an unlikely hero who finds himself on a life-changing journey alongside a wisecracking donkey and a feisty princess who resists her rescue.

“Throw in a short-tempered bad guy, a cookie with an attitude, and over a dozen other fairytale misfits, and you’ve got the kind of mess that calls for a real hero.

“Luckily, there’s one on hand. Shrek will show that there is more to this story than meets the ears.”

“The movie itself did have music in it,” recalls Bradshaw, referring to the 2001 classic and extraordinarily popular flick which was also followed up by several sequels.

As for the ‘live’ version, the original Broadway show opened around 2010. “It had mixed reviews but they kept working on it once they opened it, and the reviews kept getting better,” he said.

The show then toured America a couple of times and after about two years, it opened on London’s West End in 2011.

The acclaimed London production of the show came to an end after 715 performances, in February of 2013.

“By that point they had done a large rewrite, so the show actually got really good reviews at that point.”

Altogether, there are about 20 songs featured in the show, which essentially follows the plot line of the original film, “But there are some subtle differences,” said Bradshaw, adding he’s working with a cast of 22 which includes a few theatre studies alumni and four members from the community.

“It’s been a lot of fun and it’s also been very beneficial for the students because many of these alumni are in their fourth of the of MPA (Motion Picture Arts) program. They can then talk about what that is like. We also have alumni Nicole Leal and Tori Grebinski – they can tell the students about what it’s really like out there in the (industry).”

It’s been a blast to put together, but of course, with such a well-loved production and story line there are built-in expectations that audiences no doubt will have. “We don’t want people to come and say, ‘Well, this isn’t Shrek’,” he said with a laugh. “We are sticking mainly with the dictates which have already been made – the show itself has already been sort of standardized. So the challenge is for the actors to find their characters in what has already been created.

“It’s still the same story, but it’s told a little differently.”

As for the music, Bradshaw said there is quite the variety of genres represented throughout the show as well.

“Even in one of the dance numbers they do a bit of a tribute to Bob Fosse. And the one number is big tap dance number – so you will hear different styles of music for tap dance from the 1940s to about the 1980s,” he said.

Ultimately, it’s been a delight to see such a fun, colourful production take shape. “We’re seeing the relationships starting to grow and to build, and we’re starting to layer on some of the effects, too. So all of a sudden, we’re really starting to see the ‘magic’ of theatre.

“Shrek, at the start of the story, is an outsider. And I think that we all see ourselves as a bit of an outsider sometimes – somebody who wants to be accepted without changing,” said Bradshaw, pointing out that one of the themes really boils down to being different and unique and being proud of it.

For tickets, go to www.bkticketcentre.ca or by call 403-755-6626.