With music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, Shrek the Musical is based on the Oscar®-winning DreamWorks film Shrek and William Steig’s 1990 book Shrek!. When it was launched, the film was the first Academy Award winner for the Best Animated Feature, the #1 highest grossing animated film and the #3 highest grossing film. Still today, three of the Shrek films are in the Top 20 Highest Grossing Animated Films of all time.

Theatre People was lucky enough to sit down with two of the show’s leads, Shrek (played by Ben Mingay) and Princess Fiona (current Queen of Australian musical theatre comedies, Lucy Durack), to discuss their visit to Australia.

We asked them to tell us a little about themselves, for those who are new to their prolific love story. Fiona explained that she had “been locked away in a tower for 27 years, [she] enjoys reading and writing on [her] own.” Similarly, Shrek described his home, “a muddy patch of swamp where [he] can spend time alone, away from most people and fairy-tale creatures.”

When talking to the pair, it was clear that Shrek and Fiona are a match made in swampy heaven. They discussed how they “both listen to the same music. It’s a sort of swamp-like music, Swamp Jazz really” boasts Shrek in his thick Scottish accent. As a couple, Fiona explained how they often “take mud baths together”, which would explain her exquisite complexion. Furthermore, Fiona spends her days “making daisy chains and doing a bit of the cooking, although Shrek is the one who makes most of the meals.”

“It’s just swamp rat”, Shrek explained.

Featuring a terrific score of 19 songs, big laughs, great dancing and breathtaking scenery, Shrek the Musical brings the hilarious story of everyone’s favourite ogre to life on the stage. In a faraway kingdom turned upside down, things get ugly when an unseemly ogre – not a handsome prince – shows up to rescue a feisty princess. Throw in a donkey who won’t shut up, a bad guy with a SHORT temper, a cookie with attitude, and over a dozen other fairy tale misfits, and you’ve got the kind of mess that calls for a real hero. Luckily, there’s one on hand … and his name is Shrek.

As the titular hero, Ben Mingay has worked extensively in film, TV and theatre, his credits including Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, and the Seven Network’s Home and Away and Packed to the Rafters. His past theatre roles include Sweeney Todd, the Phantom and Billy Kostecki in the original Australian production of Dirty Dancing.

Lucy Durack, our resident musical theatre princess, joins the cast after her previous roles as Glinda the Good Witch (in both Wicked and The Wizard of Oz), Elle Woods (Legally Blonde) and Cinderella (in Into the Woods). Her radio show ‘My Soundtrack’ was one of the highest downloaded radio shows of last year, and she will grace our screens again in Seven’s Australia’s Got Talent this year.

The principal cast also includes Nat Jobe as the talkative Donkey, Todd McKenney as villain Lord Farquad and Marcia Hines as Dragon.

The company of Shrek the Musical comprises 29 cast members in total, including five young female performers who share the role of Young Fiona. Director Jenny Sawyer from the UK (who previously worked with Mingay on Dirty Dancing) discussed how the show is an “ensemble piece … it’s a story about equality and acceptance … accepting others as well as yourself. I suppose that’s why I simply love this show.” Producer John Frost spoke of the full houses that the show has thus far received in previews and how blown away he’s been at the talent of the cast in this particular production.

2020 marks the first time that Shrek and Fiona have come to our shores. So what have they thought about Australia so far?

“Well, there is more steak here than the UK,” Shrek tells us, “although I am a fan of what you call a ‘Schnitty’, it’s great with gravy”, with Fiona chiming in that she “favours a ‘Parmi’.”

A surprising fact when talking with the pair came from Fiona: “I haven’t managed to find good bowling though here in Sydney, I like bowling, there’s not much room for it when you’re locked in a tower.”

We were treated to two songs from the production, ‘This is our story’ and ‘Freak Flag’, both of which showcase the strong talent and exquisite attention to detail (particularly in the costumes) that Shrek the Musical boasts. Both performances, with cast in full costume, highlighted that this show is sure to delight children and adults alike.

With over 260 costumes seen throughout the show, wickedly strong comedic performances and a heart-warming story, Shrek the Musical will be a crowd-pleaser this summer.

“With what’s going on outside,” says Frost, “this show is the perfect getaway.” With its tale of love and acceptance over adversity, Sawyer says, “Perhaps we need this now, more than ever.”

The lavish and fun musical comedy will play in Sydney from 1st January 2020, followed by seasons at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne from 16 February and at the Lyric Theatre in Brisbane from 9 May.

Photo credit: Justin Clarke

SYDNEY SEASON DETAILS

Venue: Sydney Lyric Theatre, The Star
Season: Playing now until 9 February 2020
Performance times: Wed – Sat 7:30pm, matinees Wed & Thurs 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1pm and 6pm
Prices: From $49.90 (transaction fees apply)
Bookings: ticketmaster.com.au or 1300 795 267

MELBOURNE SEASON DETAILS

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre
Season: From 16 February 2020
Performance times: Wed – Sat 7:30pm, matinees Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1pm and 6pm
Prices: From $49.90 (transaction fees apply)
Bookings: ticketek.com.au or 132 849
Groups 12+ call 1300 364 001

BRISBANE SEASON DETAILS

Venue: Lyric Theatre, QPAC
Season: From 9 May 2020
Performance times: Wed – Sat 7:30pm, matinees Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1pm and 6pm
Prices: From $49.90 (transaction fees apply)
Bookings: qpac.com.au or 136 246
Groups 12+ call (07) 3840 7466

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