Stagecrafters has a hard-earned reputation for fearlessly bringing big shows to the Baldwin Theatre. So it’s no surprise that they’re kicking off the new year in style with a huge production of “Shrek The Musical.” With book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, and music by Jeanine Tesori, this show is based on the beloved DreamWorks animated film and became a hit on Broadway in 2009, when it was nominated for eight Tony Awards.
“Shrek” officially takes over Royal Oak beginning this weekend and stays through January 26.
As with the popular animated film, “Shrek,” and the wonderful storybook by William Steig, this story appeals to both children and adults by mixing physical humor with clever word-play and double entendre. Unlike the film, the stage play is a spectacle of inventive costumes, puppetry and old-fashioned stage magic that combine to make the fantastical creatures and habitats come to life.
In this Stagecrafters production, Shrek is played by Matt Scharlau of Bloomfield Hills. Shunned by the world and content with a solitary life in his swamp, Shrek is annoyed when his home is suddenly overrun by a ragtag group of misfit fairy tale characters who have been banished from the kingdom of Duloc by the land’s pint-sized ruler, Lord Farquaad (Christopher Anderson of Ferndale). In order to regain his home, Shrek must rescue the miniature monarch’s future bride from a lava-surrounded tower and a terrifying dragon.
With the help of Donkey (played by Dez Walker of Royal Oak), Shrek rescues the beautiful maiden Fiona (Kristen Zublick of Royal Oak) from the clutches of a torch song-belting dragon (Christiana Perrault of Southfield). While Fiona is initially unimpressed with the seemingly odious ogre, a romance begins to blossom between the two. But, unbeknownst to Shrek, Fiona has a secret and is not exactly who she seems. Shrek, now in love with Fiona, attempts to break up her wedding to Farquaad.
Of course, our fairytale friends still have their own grudge with Farquadd, and a full-scale revolt is led by Gingy (Jenny Boyle of Ferndale) and Pinocchio (Jeff Weiner of Royal Oak). Although the heroes of this silly comedy are unlikely ogres and other imperfect creatures, they ultimately teach a valuable lesson that children of all ages would do well to mind.
“’Shrek’ is all about acceptance. It is about accepting people for who they are, despite their differences, and about seeing through the outer surface to find the inner beauty of each person. As the song ‘Freak Flag’ says ‘What makes us special makes us strong!’ The show identifies the inner strength and beauty in everyone,” says director Linda Zublick of Royal Oak.
At the helm of this three-ring circus of a show, Zublick has the task of marrying Shrek’s compelling story and score with the myriad sight gags and special effects the show calls for – all while respecting the iconic movie.
“The book for ‘Shrek The Musical’ is very true to the original movie, so Shrek fans will not be disappointed. The music is funny, poignant, silly, sweet and toe-tapping all at the same time,” says Zublick. “The Broadway musical allows wide room for interpretation. We are trying to create unique characters that are a combination of some of the features and characteristics of the movie characters and the Broadway characters. We want Stagecrafters' representation of ‘Shrek’ to be a production everyone will enjoy!”
“Shrek” runs January 10 – 26 and the curtain rises at 8 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday, with matinee shows on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. There will be a short character “meet and greet” after the Saturday matinees. Patrons attending the opening night performance on January 10 are invited to a 7 p.m. pre-glow of complimentary light hors d’oeuvres and beer tasting hosted by Bastone Brewery of Royal Oak. Student, military and senior discounts are available for specific performances.
Tickets may be purchased online or by phone at 248-541-6430. Advance tickets are $20 on Thursdays, $22 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. All seats are reserved. If shows have not sold out, tickets can be purchased at the box office one hour prior to the performance for an additional $2.00 per ticket. The Baldwin Theatre is located at 415 S. Lafayette, Royal Oak.