Shrek, the story of an ogre from a faraway kingdom features the mythical creature that lives in a swamp having to share his space, unwillingly so with other creatures that have been banished by Lord Farquaad for being different.
Shrek The Musical JR is an adaptation of the film for stage, and like the films, promises to be entertaining while carrying some important lessons in its subtext.
The production’s director Jill Girard explained that the stage adaptation of the film as produced by the People’s Theatre is a slightly condensed version.
“It’s been adapted for a younger audience and there are two versions of this musical. It was a Broadway musical that’s based on the first Shrek film. This is a slightly condensed version using all the dynamics that are in the original film, and has wonderful, wonderful music,” Girard explained.
Girard added that it has most of the characters witnessed in the first film.
“Audiences can expect most of the characters of the first film. We have a fabulous donkey (Sibusiso Mkhize) who is very entertaining. The dialogue is so funny, and I thought that very young children wouldn’t get it, but they do. The roles of Farquaad and the dwarfs, the actor plays them while on his knees,” she said.
The show is an hour-and-a-half long and explores themes of accepting difference among people.
Girard said they were looking for actors that would play the roles with a bit of seriousness, but also be able to explore the hilarious nature of the roles.
“There’s a lot of almost slapstick, especially for a character like the donkey and Shrek does very vulgar things, which children love! I wanted the message and the sincerity of the story to come over. We are targeting a family audience, we want parents and grandparents to come to the theatre with the kids and discuss what they see on stage,” Girard explained.
She added that part of the journey of bringing the stage story to life was slightly challenging and that they have two groups of ten that make up the cast, a portion of which is children.
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“It’s our way of training children in a professional environment, and they come back time and again, they work with top musical directors, they work with the best choreographers. It gives them a taste of what the real theatre is all about.”
“For them as well it’s a big journey. The kids can be difficult. We try and build up teams so that the children work together. They go with the whole thing and learn that it’s all about the production - what’s best for the show,” she said.
Girard said watching Shrek would make the perfect family outing.
“Shrek is a show that’s heart-warming. The songs will stay with you. It is an experience for the entire family. It’s about joy, about people and understanding who you are and knowing that because we’re different, it’s okay to be who you are,” she said.
* Shrek will run until December 24 at the People's Theatre in the Joburg Theatre complex.