SHREK to Open SCERA's 2013-2014 Indoor Season, 9/13
"If you liked the movie 'Shrek,' you'll likely love 'Shrek: the Musical,'" says Chase Ramsey, who is directing the production to open SCERA's 2013-2014 indoor season. "That's because the stage allows for more intimacy, and, besides, who wouldn't like a green ogre, dragon, Pinocchio and your favorite Shrek characters within five or so feet in front of them?"
Ramsey is counting on a great deal of magic combined with an armload of imagination to take a parable reminiscent of the ugly duckling and turn it on its ear with comedy and craziness.
"Shrek: The Musical" opens Friday Sept. 13 and continues Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 5 @ 7:30pm at the SCERA Center for the Arts, 745 S. State St., Orem. Reserved seat tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children (age 3-11), seniors (65+) and students (w/ID). They are available from 10am-6pm weekdays and Saturdays from 12Noon-6pm at the main office at SCERA Center, by calling (801) 225-ARTS, or online atwww.scera.org.
Based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks film that started it all, "Shrek: The Musical" brings the hilarious story of everyone's favorite green ogre to the stage. In a faraway kingdom turned upside down, things get ugly when an unseemly ogre shows up to rescue feisty princess Fiona. Throw in a donkey who won't shut up, a vertically-challenged bad guy with a "short" temper, a gingerbread man with an attitude and more than a dozen other fairy tale misfits, and the resultant mess calls for a real hero: the unlikely Shrek.
"I consistently relate Shrek to the duckling tale, and so many people need to hear the message. How did an ogre end up with a princess? It's because the cover of a book is nothing compared to the beauty between its pages. In so many ways, it's the story of all of us."
He credits the music for enhancing an already winning production. "The music is incredible," he says. "Honestly, try not to be blown away. But, of course, beyond the music is a beautiful message that cannot be forgotten."
Auditions attracted 180 people who tried out for 23 openings. Ramsey says he wishes he could have cast the musical four times over, because those trying out were exceptionally talented. He also says the toughest job was winnowing the candidates down to the ideal cast.
"Ninety percent of my job is casting, so if you love the show, the credit belongs to them."
Ramsey says his Shrek, B.J. Oldroyd, is an actor whose vulnerability is brilliant, while Fiona, Madeline Weinburger, and Donkey, Wes Tolman, come from extensive training and "are dazzling in their skins."
For "Shrek" Ramsey researched medieval storytelling and concluded that shadow puppets could be a perfect fit for some of the scenes as a simple, comical and beautiful way to tell the story. He took some inspiration from the Harry Potter tales.
The family show can be viewed on multiple levels. For children, it is full of magic, wishes, dreams, dragons and fairytales. The director hopes children will go home and recreate their favorite moments. Adults will appreciate the show's nuances and connect with the satire.
"I hope that the bully and the bullied will walk out with a better understanding of love," Ramsey says. "Aside from the theatricality, I hope they walk out with hope and ready to accept that we, in some way, are all freaks, and that is beautiful." For that reason, the production's slogan - and one of the song titles - is "Let your freak flag fly."
Ramsey, who graduated from the theater program at Utah Valley University, directed "Rapunzel" earlier this year for SCERA's Theatre for Young Audiences program. He is a graduate student at Southern Utah University and will be assistant directing at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and the Salt Lake Acting Company. Additionally, he is a teacher at the Pioneer School for the Performing Arts.
Assisting Ramsey are Steve Purdy, set design; Brian Healy, lighting design; Geoff Reynolds, choreography; David Smith, music direction; Debbie and Kelsey Bowman, costumes; and Emily Bennett, hair and makeup.
Photo by: Mark A. Philbrick