Red Mountain Theatre will present Shrek The Musical, an extravaganza for the whole family, 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.
“Shrek is an iconic movie, and we hit all the same story beats,” said Director Roy Lightner. “What’s fantastic about the musical is that the songs add even more feeling and humor to every scene. Shrek is this ridiculous tale that will make you laugh until your face hurts, but at its heart is a message of acceptance and understanding.”
Shrek, the always unsocial ogre, must leave his quiet and secluded swamp for the first time to venture into the Land of Duloc. Here he braves the cruelty of Lord Farquaad, tries to conquer a fire-breathing dragon, befriends a spirited donkey and falls in love with a Princess named Fiona who is keeping a mighty secret.
The cast bringing the characters to life is one of the most accomplished troupes seen at Red Mountain Theatre. Familiar faces to both RMT and Opera Birmingham fans, Caleb Clark steps into the title role, with Alie B. Gorrie taking the stage as Princess Fiona. The lead pair is joined by Dorian Fombey (Donkey), Halo Wheeler (Dragon), Blake West (Lord Farquaad), and an ensemble of gifted RMT veterans and exciting new talent.
As Princess Fiona, Gorrie doesn’t step into just one role, but two, playing both human and ogress.
“Whatever form Fiona is at the time affects her body, how she speaks, how she stands, how she lifts her eyes and looks at someone. As an actor, it’s a big challenge,” Gorrie told bhamnow.com. “I love playing Princess Fiona because she is not your typical princess. She has a backbone and a little bit of a bite to her. She is a no-nonsense gal and I love that about her.”
Fombey, a huge fan of Eddie Murphy (who voiced Donkey in the Shrek movies), said he has always enjoyed the story of Shrek.
“Donkey is such a comical character. It’s a joy to be able to play a character like him. I didn’t realize Donkey and I were so similar until this role,” Fombey said.
When talking with Fombey about Shrek The Musical, he joked that Donkey’s personality has a lot of layers. It turns out, his costume does, too.
Here’s what Donkey’s costume includes: moisture wicking shirt; body padding; ice vest (to keep cool onstage); donkey onesie; helmet with ears; hooves.
“I want people to come and exhale. We carry so much around with us from day to day. This is a show that doesn’t take itself so seriously. You can come to this show and just sit and laugh,” Fombey said.
NYC-based Choreographer Sara Brians has enjoyed the camaraderie among the cast. “The fun and creativity we cultivate in the rehearsal studio is reflected in the joy and brilliant storytelling you’re going to see on stage.”
However, adapting an animated movie to a three-dimensional stage version requires top talent behind the scenes too, with costuming, makeup, prosthetics, puppetry, and special effects in just about every scene.
“This is the largest musical we have produced in our new home, and I’m lucky enough to be collaborating with artists who make it look effortless,” Lightner said.
Performances run through June 25. 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 online at redmountaintheatre.org. Tickets start at $32/adults and $25/child. The show is recommended for all ages. For more information on the show, click here.