By Nicole S. Daniel
The Birmingham Times
Auditioning to become a part of Red Mountain Theatre’s cast for Shrek was a no brainer for 29-year-old Dorian Fomby.
“I grew up with the movie, of course, me and all of my friends loved Shrek. Being able to be a part of the show, especially as Donkey has been amazing because I’m a huge Eddie Murphy fan. So to do anything that Eddie Murphy (who voiced Donkey in the Shrek movies), has done, is just one of the ultimate honors for me. So the process has been great, the people are awesome, the cast is amazing, its just been a good time,” said Fomby, who has seen the Shrek Musical on Netflix.
“It was nice. It’s kind of like the movie, but there’s still some differences in it because it’s a different medium,” he said.
When he found out about Shrek coming to Red Mountain Theatre he told himself that he had to find a way to be a part of the musical “…And fortunately, I got a chance to audition for Donkey and by the grace of God, they went ahead with me and cast me.”
Red Mountain Theatre presents Shrek The Musical through June 25. Based on the 2001 DreamWorks film, the musical version takes the familiar story in new directions with witty songs, goofy dance numbers, elaborate sets and costumes, and the pizazz that can only come from live actors.
Fomby said he has always enjoyed the story of Shrek and considers the role “fun.”
“I haven’t had a chance in my professional career to play a comedic role. All my roles that I’ve played so far have been very heavy and dramatic. So to be able to play a character that is able to go on stage and lose his mind every night and have those layers of the past was really a draw to get a chance to do something I’ve never done before as a stretch as an artist.”
According to Fomby, Donkey is beloved in the Shrek community.
“We have a different audience every night. You may have an audience one night that is very responsive but, you may have an audience one night that’s not so responsive. Donkey seems to be a person that everybody responds to because he is such a fool. He’s such a character. But he does have those layers that we talk about in the show. So that’s always fun to get that audience reaction. And even when we were in rehearsals, some of the stuff we can try in rehearsals will get certain reactions from the cast while they’re watching. So it’s always fun to hear that immediate response from the people that you performing for.”
In preparation for each show, Fomby arrives hours early before show time. “I come in early to warm up and steam my voice and then I go to get my hair pinned up because the donkey head has to go on.”
Fomby’s natural hair is down to the middle of his back. “I’ve been growing it for seven years. I have my little sister twist it for me and that helps with pinning it down for the show. I wear two wig caps and a head band” he said.
After getting his hair pinned down he gets mic’d up.
“Afterwards, I’m usually in the chair for about 30 minutes to get my makeup done by the makeup artist.” Lastly, he needs assistance with his costume.
“Me and Shrek need help because both of our costumes have so many different layers. Donkey’s costume has a t-shirt under there, an ice vest, the mesh bodysuit, fur overlay, a helmet which is the where the ears and stuff are and you have the hooves and the boots. So that’s about seven pieces to the costume. Once I’m in it, I’m in it because I get velcro into everything. I’m in it until it’s over.”
Every attendee that comes to see Shrek can “expect a good time, but a good time with a message,” he said. “There’s so many different things in the show, for example, one of the songs is ‘Freak Flag’. That song mainly talks about embracing who you are on the inside and not being afraid to let your true self shine through.”
He added “we often go through life trying to be what everybody else wants us to be, just trying to live up to the expectations that others have for us and never really given voice or room for who we really are. That’s my favorite part in the show just talking about letting your true self shine through being happy in who you are.”
“It’s great when you meet people that are immensely talented, but also very humble. Nobody has the big head, nobody acts like divas or want special treatment. Everybody comes in and we all really stick to wanting to put our best foot forward and wanting to put on the best show we can out there. We have some great dancers in the show.”
His favorite part of the show is what happens behind the scenes, Fomby said.
“You just see the show, you don’t see all the crazy things happening backstage. The quick changes or having to get to one side of the stage to the next in a matter of seconds.”
Show times are Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased here. Tickets start at $32/adult and $25/child. The show is recommended for all ages.