An unusual fairy tale featuring some of the usual suspects, “Shrek: The Musical” follows the journey of its title character, a smelly green ogre who’s far from the dashing princes the genre has brought us to expect. During a quest to rescue sassy princess Fiona, he takes on his inevitable sidekick–a wisecracking donkey–and teams up with him to defeat an evil prince with anger issues, encountering scores of familiar storybook characters along the way.
The property has a history reaching all the way back to 1990 and William Steig’s children’s book Shrek! which was transformed into Dreamworks Pictures’ computer-animated hit in 2001 starring Michael Myers, Eddie Murphy, John Lithgow, and Cameron Diaz.
Shrek: The Musical had its own long journey. Development began in 2002, in the wake of the film’s success, and continued through a late summer 2008 tryout in Seattle before moving to Broadway late in the year with a $24 million budget and 19 original songs. The production snagged eight Tony nominations, including Best Musical as well as for Jeanine Tesori’s original music and David Lindsay-Abaire’s script and lyrics, and winning Best Costume Design.
After closing in 2010, a U.S. national tour was launched, and the show was taken on the road, where it has entertained children and adults alike for more than two years.
The current tour began last October in Anchorage, Alaska, and makes it way through Ohio on the way back West, leading to Vegas and Reno in the spring. The touring cast includes Perry Sook as Shrek, Whitney Winfield as Princess Fiona, Christian Marriner as Lord Farquaad, and Courtney Daniels as Dragon.
The tour also features two former Wright State University students: Jeremy Gaston as Donkey, and Tiffani Robbins, who plays the Ugly Duckling and works as the cast’s assistant dance captain.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Beavercreek native Gaston by phone from an Akron tour stop earlier this week. “I get to play the Ugly Duckling and other characters in the ensemble. It’s a fun, energetic, physical show. The music is really upbeat, there’s lots of dancing, lights, and pretty costumes. It’s a great show for families and kids.”
Robbins, also a 2004 graduate of Xenia Christian High School, trained as a dancer growing up and took part in numerous dance competitions before her mother, who was involved in Springfield community theatre, encouraged Tiffani to try doing a musical with her. She found she enjoyed acting and singing as well, and after several musicals during high school and college, she began landing professional gigs on cruise ships and found herself in New York City, where she is currently based.
“As far as being assistant dance captain,” she said of her other duty on the tour, “we don’t have the show’s original director or choreographer with us on the road, so that’s where the dance captain steps in. You have to make sure that the show’s movements look clean, that everyone is doing the correct dance steps and landing where they’re supposed to. If I see that things look incorrect, I go to the dance captain and assist with getting things back in shape.”
Winter can be a rough time to tour the country, with unpredictable weather in many regions and a large company of cast and crew coming meeting hundreds of people every week during cold and flu season.
Robbins said, “We’ve had a lot of sickness because it’s the middle of winter and we do so many shows. We had a small break for Christmas and were allowed to go home, and all the snow hit right around the holiday, so when we came back after Christmas, we didn’t get everybody back right away and had to do a show with less people. We had some work to do figuring out how to cover for the missing actors, and some people had to take on lines for those who weren’t there, and such. But, the show must go on.”
Shrek: The Musical is Robbins’ third national tour. When it ends in April, she’ll return to New York and audition for the next job. She hopes–and who wouldn’t?–to make it to Broadway eventually.
But for now, she’s excited to be based at home for a bit.
“We’ll be playing Dayton for two weeks. I’m looking forward to being at home. I lived there for 21 years, so I’m excited to be back. My parents live in Florida now, but my grandma still lives in Springfield, and I’ll be staying with her. When you’re on tour going from hotel to hotel, you always have roommates. I get to have my own room for a while! I’m going to enjoy that.”
Shrek: The Musical runs January 15 – 27 at the Victoria Theatre. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $15 to $86. For information on ticket purchase, discounts, Family Broadway Matinee activity performances, and more – click here.
Dayton Most Metro Ticket Contest
We have TWO PAIRS of tickets for the Wednesday 1/16 performance of “Shrek: The Musical” courtesy of The Victoria Theatre Association, and TWO WAYS to win! First, fill out the form below and then leave a Facebook comment saying that YOU want to win tickets to see Shrek: The Musical from Dayton Most Metro. Then visit our On Stage Dayton Facebook Page on Monday 1/14 and share the Shrek image we post that morning and you can DOUBLE YOUR CHANCES of winning! We’ll announce a winner from our form submissions AND a winner from our FB image shares after 5pm Monday 1/14. GOOD LUCK!
Congratulations to our winners!
Jamie Cress See