CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT: Brian d'Arcy James as Shrek; Brian d'Arcy James; Sutton Foster.
WHEN AN ENORMOUS, bad-mannered ogre with a big heart falls for an equally roughand- tumble ogress, it’s safe to say the relationship will be anything but boring. Which is why Shrek the Musical, opening December 14, 2008 at the Broadway Theatre, is bound to be around for the long haul.
This brand-new musical romp (based on William Steig’s book Shrek! and the first of the three Shrek films) stars Broadway vet Brian d’Arcy James (The Apple Tree, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Sweet Smell of Success) as Shrek and Tony Award winner Sutton Foster (Young Frankenstein, The Drowsy Chaperone, Thoroughly Modern Millie) as Princess Fiona, and promises to have all the quirky comedy, clever references, and juvenile humor for which the book and movies are known.
The two leads, who both undergo dramatic makeup- and costume-aided transformations during the course of the show, are smitten with the production and their roles in it (not to mention the other characters they play against, including Donkey, Pinocchio, and the evil, height-challenged Lord Farquaad). Here’s what they had to say:
BRIAN D’ARCY JAMES: “It’s a great kind of liberation to put this costume and makeup on, because it allows you to really lose yourself.… You’re given enormous freedom to explore what it really means to be an ogre, whatever that means to me and in the context of the story.”
“[My seven-year-old daughter] was a little nervous about seeing me in the makeup because I was trying to tell her, ‘This is quite a different look you’re going to see from Daddy.’ But ultimately she loved it—I’m a big hit when I drop her off at the playground for school.”
“Upon hearing that I was going to be the green, smelly ogre, my daughter said that she wished I could have been Pinocchio.”
“I’ve always loved musicals. When I was a kid growing up in Michigan there were tours coming through Detroit, and my parents took me to see them. Their interest and their love for it definitely rubbed off on me.”
SUTTON FOSTER: “I’ve had the opportunity to play all types of different characters, but I really think Fiona might be my favorite. She’s not your typical princess—she tries so hard to be what she’s read about, but she just isn’t. She’s just really fun to play and I love it.”
“I transform three times. The first two times are a little subtle, and then the last one is pretty much fullthrottle. It’s a quick change into the ogress and it takes less than a minute, so it’s really fast. I have six people surrounding me—two doing my hair, two doing makeup, and two doing costume.”
“[The show is] for all ages. The Shrek films appeal not only to kids, but to every generation, men and women. I think that’s what’s exciting, seeing a sevenyear- old and her grandmother enjoying it equally.”
“I love live performance and going to the theater, but there’s nothing like performing on a stage in front of a thousand people. And the fact that I get paid for it is literally a dream come true. I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.”
Shrek the Musical, Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway, 212-239-6200.