The greatest fairy tale never told comes to life as never before in SHREK THE MUSICAL, the highly acclaimed Broadway production based on the smash-hit movie. Called a “triumph of comic imagination” (Elysa Gardner, USA Today) that “never stints on spectacle or laughs” (David Rooney, Variety), SHREK THE MUSICAL received eight 2009 Tony Award nominations including Best Musical. Featuring a fantastic score of 17 all-new songs, along with unforgettable characters and outrageous humor, it’s ogre-sized fun for the whole family!
Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, Subtitled, Widescreen, Multiple Formats
Language: English (DTS 5.1)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Number of discs: 2
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Run Time: 120 minutes
Following many of the same beats from the first film, we are introduced to Shrek – an ogre who lives in a desolate swamp that he calls home. What differs is that we are introduced to his parents, and shown how young Shrek came to live in the swamp. The same goes for Fiona, a princess that is born into a lifestyle that calls for her to be trapped in a tower until being rescued by her true love.Problems start for Shrek (Eric Petersen) when fairy-tale creatures start showing up in his swamp unexpectedly. He soon learns that it was Lord Farquaad (David F.M. Vaughn) who has exiled them from his kingdom of Duloc. In an attempt to get his swamp back to himself, he decides to travels to Duloc and confront Farquaad. Along the way he rescues a talking Donkey from some guards, and gains a friend to accompany him along the journey.
The entire cast of “Shrek the Musical” was chosen perfectly for the show. Eric Petersen does a great job embodying the character, which appears larger than life on stage. His chemistry with Donkey, played by an exceptionally energetic Alan Mingo Jr., works well throughout. Holly Ann Butler played Princess Fiona, who is every bit of a princess that has been waiting her entire life to be rescued. She fits the role perfectly, and the result is exactly what you would picture. I will have to say that the role that really steals the show every time he appears on-stage is that of Lord Farquaad. Played exuberantly by David F.M. Vaughn, it would be surprising to find a person in the crowd without a smile on their face during his performance.It is certainly hard enough to transform something from paper to the stage. Yet, even more challenging is taking a beloved animated feature and making it work in live theater. But “Shrek the Musical” does just that, without so much as fans of the franchise batting an eyelash. The costumes and sets are exceptional, and really make you feel like you are being transported into this fairy-tale world. Of course the most stage-time goes to Shrek, which truly captures the look and feel of the animated character. The make-up, which takes about two and a half hours to apply before each show, is extraordinary. Equally impressive are the sets. As the characters travel throughout the imaginative scenery, impressive backgrounds go through flawless transitions that almost make you feel like you are in an animated world. The show also features one of the most impressive puppets that I have ever seen in a live show – the dragon. Controlled by four puppeteers, it is truly a sight to see.
The supporting cast of “Shrek the Musical” is comprised mainly of fairy-tale characters. Amongst the characters who all do an exceptional job are Pinocchio (Blakely Slaybaugh), whose make-up and costume make him look incredibly like a wooden boy, The Big Bad Wolf (Jason W. Shuffler), The Three Bears, and Gingy (Aymee Garcia). Gingy, the gingerbread man who steals many scenes in the movie, makes a seamless transition to the stage. Credit goes to Garcia, who at times puppeteers the talking cookie while playing another character herself, and does a great job.
For fans of the beloved films, “Shrek the Musical” is easily accessible and makes for a great night out for the entire family. The actors are perfect for their roles, and really bring the characters we love to life. The show is for all ages, with jokes that the young ones will laugh at – while still maintaining humor that parents can appreciate. If you like the movies, you are sure to have even more fun watching Shrek and company come to life!
ERIC PETERSEN (Shrek). Broadway: Shrek The Musical (Shrek Standby/Papa Ogre/Straw Pig). Other credits include: first national tour of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Barfee), many Theatreworks USA productions, readings of Zorba (with Antonio Banderas), Up Here, among numerous others. Regional: …Spelling Bee (North Shore/Barrington Stage), The Foreigner (Engeman Theatre), The Producers (Barn Theatre), Oliver! (Charleston Stage). TV: “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “As The World Turns,” “Evan & Gareth Trying To Get Laid” and an upcoming NBC pilot with Jimmy Smits. Eric is a proud graduate of Bradley University and member of Actors’ Equity. Thanks to God, BRS, the whole Shrek team, Mom, Dad, Kyle, Lisa and our new baby girl, Sophia.
Check out more at EricPetersenOnline.com.
Kevin: First off – congratulations on the new addition to your family (Sophia Marie Petersen was born on Thursday, July 15.).
Eric: Thank you very much. I’m very excited. My daughter turns 7 weeks old tomorrow. It is our first, and it’s been really great. I somehow manage to make it through with the very tiring job of being a father, and the very tiring job of being Shrek 8 times a week. We’re making it work, so I’m not complaining.
K: How would you describe your experience as Shrek so far?E: It’s so awesome! I got to play Shrek a few times on Broadway, when I was the understudy, and that was awesome. And now it is great to really feel like you own the part. I think that this production has a lot differences, and a lot of parts that we have tightened up to make it better. So it’s really exciting to be a part of all of that, and a new production. It’s a dream come true. As an actor, you just want to work first of all. And it’s great to be in a role that let’s you show off a lot of different layers of who you are as an actor, and as a singer. I really love playing the part.
K: Were you involved with the show from the very beginning?
E: Not from the very beginning, because I actually was in the first round of replacements on the Broadway company. So I actually came in about six months after they opened on Broadway. And then I was involved there for around six or seven months.
K: Were all of the songs new and written for the show?
E: Yes, it’s all completely new music. Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abair who are the composer and writer, are two major heavyweights in the theatre world and totally respected. It’s so great that they came together to take on this huge project, and it’s completely new music that is so good. I love when people leave, and have no idea that it was going to be completely new music and love the songs. The only song from the movie is “I’m a Believer,” which was Smashmouth in the movie. We sing that as kind of an encore after curtain call. But beside from that, it’s completely new music.
K: How did you get to be a part of the show?E: I auditioned for the workshop about 2 years before the Broadway production. I had a couple of callbacks, and they casted a couple different people at the time. I knew the casting director Tara Rubin pretty well, and was working Summerstock in Michigan with my wife at the time when I got a call from my agent. Due to an actor taking some time off for health issues, they needed an immediate replacement for Papa Ogre and Straw Pig. So I flew to New York the next day for the audition, and I got it. I started about a week later, and I left my job and wife in Michigan while she finished up the summer there. I started with the Broadway company, and when the standby moved into the role of Shrek, then needed a new standby. I went on as Shrek a few times before we closed, and when we had auditions for this tour I went out for the role of Shrek and got it. It was just so exciting, and an honor to be trusted with such an important role in a smash franchise.
K: Has acting been a lifelong dream of yours?
E: I think that I found out fairly early on. I started doing theater in my freshman year of high school. Before that, I was always kind of a goofy little kid.I never did, like, theater or anything like that when I was younger. I found out that I had a little bit of an ability in it, and then I was actually planning on being a cartoonist or an animator. Then senior year of high school I was like, “well, maybe I’m kind of decent at this acting thing, I guess I’ll go to school for that.” I did, and did well in school, and moved to New York. And things have been working out ever since.
K: When this tour is over, will you move back to New York?E: My wife and daughter are going to be on the road with me for the next year or so, as we do the tour. After that we will move back to New York. My wife is an actress as well, so we will go back to the grind. We will keep auditioning, and finding new projects.
K: How does this show differ from others that you have acted in?
E: Obviously the make-up and the costumes are so vastly different than anything I’ve done. And again, I’ve done shows that are physically taxing, or are big shows where you sing a lot. But nothing has ever been this involved. There is make-up, and prosthetics all over my entire face, a forty pound costume. It’s a massively huge undertaking for every single show. Mastering that, and getting all of the essential aspects of the show is probably the biggest challenge. It’s more than I have ever had to deal with in any other show. I said to my wife, “whatever I do next – I don’t care what show it is – I can guarantee you it won’t be as hard as Shrek the Musical.
K: What is your favorite part of being Shrek?
E: I would say probably the journey of becoming Shrek. I know that might sound a little “actory,” or “artsy-fartsy.” As an actor, to get to play a role where you get to start at point A, and part B is something completely different, is so much fun. I’m probably more of a character man, than a leading man, so a lot of time we play the same part the whole time. To get to start something and completely transform into a new person as the character, is really awesome. And my favorite part.
I had the chance to speak with actress Haven Burton, who plays Fiona on the national tour! Haven has been with the show from pretty much the beginning, including playing Gingy on Broadway.
Kevin: So how does it feel to be a part of something as big as SHREK has become over the last decade?
Haven: Well, first off, getting to play a princess for a living is a dream come true for most girls. My inner child is squealing with delight. As far as being a part as something as big as Shrek, it’s exciting! I’ve worked with Dreamworks now for the past, about three years now, and they’re the best company in the world to work for. They’re fantastic. I’ve worked with them for this production of Shrek, and I did all the workshops in Seattle, Broadway – and now the National Tour. Apparently I’m happy, becayse I keep following them from town to town. It’s awesome!
K: So Dreamworks is very involved in the project, making sure everything is perfect?
H: They are very hands on. Bill Damaschke, who is head of Dreamworks Theatrical and Dreamworks Animation, was our executive producer for a long time until just recently. He passed the torch onto our general manager, James Triner, who is our executive producer now. Even Jeffrey Katzenberg, who is an extremely busy man, is very hands on. He always wants to come and not only be a part of the acting process, but of the creative process. They come and they watch run after run, and then they give notes and do some changes. We’re lucky to have people that care so much about this project, and I think that’s what really distinguishes Shrek from a lot of the others.
It’s not just putting out a great product, which is obviously at the forefront of their minds, but it’s also the fact that they really love this and they are really excited. Not only do they want it to do well, but they want to be a part of the whole experience. I think that it’s rare.
It’s really fun to be a part of the show from the very beginning. From the first reading, all the way to it’s run on Broadway, and now the National Tour. They’ve changed a lot of the stuff like the music, and the cast is completely different, and it’s cool to see something like that. It’s kind of like giving birth, and then sending it off to college.
K: How did you get involved with Shrek: The Musical from the very beginning?H: Well, it was just another audition in New York. They sent out the information to the agents, and everybody gets a breakdown of all the characters they are looking for. They submit you, and hopefully you get an appointment and you go in.
I had an appointment to be seen by Tara Rubin and the creatives for Shrek. I went in, and thought that I blew it! I left the audition, and cried all the way home. And then I didn’t hear from my agent for a couple of weeks, and did a couple of other workshops. Then I found out kind of haphazardly that I had booked it, and was really excited. I thought that Shrek was a really great opportunity for a movie musical, because there are so many fairy-tale creatures, and journeys that each character takes. It seems so obvious to me that these characters should be singing. Especially with the writers, and how funny and irreverent that Shrek is. I thought it was a really great opportunity for movie-musicals to step up a little bit. To show something fun, and not take themselves too seriously.
I came in and did the workshop, and we didn’t know who we were playing until we got to the first day of rehearsals. I literally walked in, and it was like Ana Gasteyer, Sutton Foster, Christian Borle. It was like tons of broadway and comedy headliners – and me. And then they said, “you will be playing Gingy – you’re the Gingerbread Man.” I was so excited. So I got to play the Gingerbread Man all the way through to Broadway, and didn’t switch up roles until the tour.
K: Is the tour is the first time that you have been able to play the role of Fiona?
H: Yeah, I understudied Fiona on Broadway and had the opportunity to go on somewhere around thirty times. But it’s not the same as owning the role.
K: The Gingerbread was one of the funniest characters in the movie that I remember.
H: Oh yeah, it was my favorite. And Gingy is still around, and is being played by Amy Garcia – who is an amazing puppeteer and incredible comedian. She’s doing a fantastic job.
K: How close is SHREK The Musical to the movies?
H: It’s really close to the first film. And then of course, I think that people will be pleasantly surprised to see a bunch of new material and new storylines. They go into the telling of the fairytale creatures, and who their characters are a little bit more. You get to see Shrek and Fiona as children, and dealing with their parents – which is new material that the first movie never really touched on. But overall, the arch of the characters and the characters are the same from the film. You know, Donkey, Shrek, Fiona, Lord Farquaad, the fairytale creatures and the dragon.
K: What is your favorite part of being in the national tour?H: One of my favorite parts if being in this national tour is getting to see the creative people be inspired to change a lot of material – not only in the writing and in the music – but also in the design of the show. We completely renovated the design of the dragon. We basically pulled it down, and started from scratch. There’s a new song, some new character developments, and completely different puppets. The sets are just beautiful, and the dragon is also incorporated into the great escape out of the castle.
I think the dragon number is definitely my favorite part. It probably helps that my boyfriend is the head puppeteer, and does a wonderful job. The boys that are puppeteering are incredible. It’s puppeteered by four guys. It’s beautiful. She’s thirty-two feet long. It’s a Michael Curry design, who designed all of the puppets for the Lion King. She’s got a lot of life to her – it’s remarkable. she’s the coolest puppet that I’ve ever seen.
K: How long does it take to prepare the cast for the show each performance? I’m guessing Shrek takes the longest to prepare.
H: Everyone is different. Some people show up a half-hour before half hour. I usually show up at half-hour, because my character doesn’t show up for thirty to forty-five minutes into the show. So I have lots of extra time. You change into your costumes, and do your wig preps and make-up. It’s different for everybody, but Shrek’s make-up takes around an hour and a half.
K: Have you played the Fox Theatre in St. Louis before?
H: I’ve actually been to the Fox before. I might mess up the year, because I was on tour for two years. But I think it was Thanksgiving of 2000, with Rent. I was playing Mrs. Cohen on the tour, and I would go between Mrs. Cullen and Maureen on Broadway. If they needed a Maureen replacement for a couple of months they would put me under contract, and then I would go back to playing Mrs. Cohen. It was just whatever they needed at the time.
I did it for almost two years on the road, and just shy of two years on Broadway.
K: Is acting something that you have always wanted to do?
H: Yeah, of course. I mean, I don’t really know how to do anything else, so thank God I’m getting work. But it’s always been a dream, although I never really set my sights on Broadway. I never thought that it was anything that I would be able to achieve. I was like a rock singer. But Rent kind of opened that door, and was a really great learning experience for me. It let me expand my voice in different directions, and different genres. And since I was working in that, it allowed me to continue working and being able to support myself while getting to do what I love to do. Acting, and singing and dancing – I just didn’t know that I would be able to do all of them at the same time. It’s great.
K: How long do you tour, and what are your plans for afterwards?
H: It’s kind of a hard thing to answer, because it really doesn’t depend entirely on me. Our contracts are up next year, so we will see if they want to continue and resign us – which would be wonderful. You can save a lot of money on tour, so the goal is to get out and save as much as you can. Hopefully you can continue to work, or take some time off and have a bit of a family, and enjoy hanging out with other family members. My contract ends in Los Angeles, so I don’t know where we’ll go from there. Voice-over work is something that I’ve wanted to get into for a long time, so we’ll see what kind of opportunities come up in Los Angeles, if any. My boyfriend and I both do this for a living, so we will probably make our way back to New York and start auditioning again, seeing what’s going on. The usual.
K: Do you have any dream roles that you would love to do some day?
H: I like doing a lot of original work. I like inspiring writers to either keep material, or cut material, or write more material. I like the creative process. That’s a hard question. A lot of the roles that I would like to land, I would probably have to wait a good twenty years for.