Photo Flash: Area Stage Company Presents SHREK THE MUSICAL

Area Stage Company presents a fairy-tale for grown-ups and kids alike - a high-concept, low-tech, hilariously enchanting version of the Tony Award Winning Shrek the Musical. Director Giancarlo Rodaz radically re-imagines the hit Broadway musical, based on the beloved, Oscar-winning Dreamworks animated film, into an intimate theatrical experience. Using only seven multi-talented young adult actors, an ironic attitude, and an unaffected heart, Rodaz bings new life and energy to this comedic classic.

Area Stage Company's professional production of the musical, with score by Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Thoroughly Modern Millie) and book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize Winning Playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, opens May 18th and runs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through June 3rd at Area Stage Company at the Riviera Plaza in Coral Gables.

Rather than emulating the film, or even the elaborate 2008 Broadway production, Rodaz has focused on the idea of self-acceptance at the tale's center, and on the foibles and dreams of its primary characters. Based on a 1990 children's book by William Steig, Shrek tells the story of a grumpy ogre who becomes a reluctant hero with the help of the aggravatingly enthusiastic Donkey, the conflicted Princess Fiona, and a host of fairytale characters.

"Theatre is about personal story telling, where movies are about big images," says Rodaz. "We're trying to strip it down to the most human element."

In doing so, Rodaz has converted the characters into relatable contemporary archetypes, and emphasized the story's underlying satire. Instead of a green monster, Shrek (Ryan Bauta) is a blustering biker dude. Fiona (Michelle Gordon) is an introverted shut-in writing about her adolescent fantasies. Donkey (Malik Kamau Archibald) is an earnest but socially inept guy who doesn't know when to shut up. Dragon is a lonely girl longing for love, played by Jeana Montgomery, whose small size highlights the contrast between her character's minute self-esteem and the oversize wings and armor (manipulated by the other performers) of her monstrous image.

"All these knights are coming to save the princess," Rodaz says. "And she's going 'when is someone gonna come for me?'"

Rodaz has framed the show as a troupe of contemporary performers at a modern renaissance fair. The actors, veterans of popular Area Stage productions like Heathers, Carrie, and Wild Party, all play multiple roles. (The cast also includes Giorgio Volpe, better known as Vine personality "The Berry Guy" Gio Volpe, whose comic videos have made him a YouTube star.) At only 22 years of age, Rodaz, who is also a playwright and designer, has fostered a creative, collaborative atmosphere in rehearsal. The performers use hand and shadow puppets, manipulate deliberately makeshift special effects, and accompany themselves on guitar and ukulele throughout the show.

"It's modern people," says Rodaz, "telling a story of this fairytale land."

Photo Flash: Area Stage Company Presents SHREK THE MUSICAL

Photo Flash: Area Stage Company Presents SHREK THE MUSICAL

Photo Flash: Area Stage Company Presents SHREK THE MUSICAL

Photo Flash: Area Stage Company Presents SHREK THE MUSICAL

Photo Flash: Area Stage Company Presents SHREK THE MUSICAL

Photo Flash: Area Stage Company Presents SHREK THE MUSICAL

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