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Shrek Musical – Fairytale

by The British Library

Shrek Musical – fairytale is a musical with music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire. It is based on the 1990 book Shrek! by William Steig as well as the 2001 DreamWorks film of the same name.  The original Broadway production of Shrek Musical – fairytale opened December 2008 and lasted over 12 months, closing January 2010. The First North American Tour began in July 2010, with the West End production opening in June 2011.

Here is some interesting history about Shrek Musical – fairytale. Lindsay-Abaire and Jason Moore began working on the show in 2002, with Tesori joining the team from 2004. A reading for Shrek Musical – fairytale took place on August 10, 2007, with Stephen Kramer Glickman in the title role, Celia Keenan-Bolger as Princess Fiona, Christopher Sieber as Lord Farquaad and Robert L. Daye, Jr. as Donkey. Shrek Musical premiered in an out-of-town tryout at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, beginning August 14, 2008, in previews, and officially opened on September 10. The tryout ran through September 21, and played to generally favorable reviews, being cited as one of the few movie-to-stage adaptations “with heart”. The principal cast included Brian d’Arcy James as Shrek, Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona, Christopher Sieber as Lord Farquaad, Chester Gregory II as Donkey, John Tartaglia as Pinocchio, and Kecia Lewis-Evans as the Dragon.

After many extensive changes were made, Shrek Musical – fairytale began previews on Broadway at The Broadway Theatre on November 8, 2008, with the official opening on December 14. The original cast included Brian d’Arcy James as Shrek, Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona, Christopher Sieber as Lord Farquaad, John Tartaglia as Pinocchio. Daniel Breaker took over the role of Donkey, as the creative team thought Chester Gregory did not fit the part. Changes included the deletion of four songs: “The Line-Up”, “I Could Get Used to This”, “More to the Story” and “I Smell a Happy Ending”. “Story of My Life,” “Don’t Let Me Go”, “When Words Fail,” and “This Is Our Story” were added in their respected places. “Freak Flag” and “Donkey Pot Pie” were shortened and “Let Her In” underwent some minor changes to become “Make a Move”. “Who I’d Be” changed from being a solo for Shrek, to a trio with Fiona and Donkey joining him towards the end. During Seattle previews, a brief reprise of “Who I’d Be” was sung after Shrek overhears Fiona’s misleading comment about being with a hideous beast, which led into “Build a Wall”. This was cut and “Build a Wall” was placed after “Morning Person (reprise)”. Another change included The Dragon being voiced by members of the ensemble, instead of a soloist. Kecia Lewis-Evans was therefore offered a part in the show’s ensemble, but declined. The song “I’m a Believer”, which was originally played as the audience left the theatre, was added to the score on October 2, 2009, and was sung by the entire company at the end of the performance. The Broadway production of Shrek Musical – fairy tale closed on January 3, 2010, after 441 performances and 37 previews.

The First North American Tour of Shrek Musical – fairytale in the U.S. began previews at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago, on July 13, 2010, and officially opened on July 25. Rob Ashford was assigned as co-director, as the Broadway creative team revised changes. Shrek Musical- fairytale marked the debut of an all-new Dragon. On the subject, set designer Tim Hatley stated “The biggest change was with the dragon. It would be a different creature from the puppet/soul trio on Broadway, ” I think we’ve finally gotten it right”. The tour also featured a new opening, new songs and improved illusions, from those on Broadway. Changes made for the tour included a new song sung by the dragon entitled “Forever” (replacing “Donkey Pot Pie” from Broadway). The dragon is also being voiced (off-stage) by a single vocalist, with four puppeteers controlling the movements. Sets and props were re-designed to fit the tour, and some lyrics were re-written. The number of banished fairy tale creatures decreased, resulting in the loss of the Fairy Godmother, White Rabbit, and the Gnome. Humpty Dumpty was also cut, and replaced by Tweedledum. The Magic Mirror was also scrapped, and instead King Harold comes to Farquaad and asks him to marry Fiona. The original cast includes Eric Petersen as Shrek, Haven Burton as Princess Fiona, and David F.M. Vaughn as Lord Farquaad – who all understudied their roles on Broadway, with newcomers of the day Alan Mingo, Jr. as Donkey, Blakely Slaybaugh as Pinocchio, and Carrie Compere as the Dragon. The role of Lord Farquaad was initially played by Todd Buonopane, however, during the second week of previews he was replaced by Vaughn. The reason for Buonopane’s departure was unknown.

A retooled version of Shrek Musical – fairytale scheduled performances at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, in London’s West End, on May 6, 2011, with an official opening night set for June 14. Confirmed cast members included Nigel Lindsay as Shrek, Amanda Holden as Princess Fiona, Nigel Harman as Lord Farquaad, and Richard Blackwood as Donkey. Rob Ashford recently stated that he would be bringing back such Broadway fairy tale creatures as Humpty Dumpty and the White Rabbit, as they are more recognizable in the UK.


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