SHREK THE MUSICAL Comes to The Walnut Street Theatre
Walnut Street Theatre (WST) continues its 211th season with the hilarious Broadway hit, SHREK THE MUSICAL. Directed by Glenn Casale and choreographed by Robbie Roby, the production begins previews on November 5, opens November 13, and continues through January 5 on the Walnut's Mainstage.
The greatest fairy tale never told comes to life as never before in SHREK THE MUSICAL, the award-winning Broadway musical based on the Oscar-winning movie. A reclusive ogre finds himself on a life-changing journey alongside a wisecracking donkey and a feisty princess. Throw in a short-tempered wannabe king, a cookie with an attitude, and over a dozen other classic fairy tale misfits, and you've got the makings of a riotously dysfunctional road trip. Featuring all-new songs and outrageous humor for all ages, Shrek The Musical is ogre-sized holiday fun for the whole family!
Inspired by the success of Dreamworks Animation's Shrek, David Lindsay-Abaire (Book and Lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori (Music) began work on a stage adaptation for the movie. The film was adapted into a musical that debuted on Broadway in November 2008. The production was met with great success and critical acclaim, grossing more than $46 million during its 441 performance run and winning the 2009 Tony Award for Best Costume Design of a Musical.
Glenn Casale returns to the Walnut to direct SHREK THE MUSICAL. Casale's work was last seen on the Mainstage during 2017's Annie. His work includes the 1999 Broadway revival of Peter Pan, which received a Tony nomination for Best Revival of a Musical, as well as the National Tour of Peter Pan and the A&E television production. He also directed Dragapella! at Studio 54, which was nominated for a Drama Desk and two Lucille Lortel Awards, and the National Tour of Dr. Dolittle. Chris Burcheri returns as music director and Robbie Roby serves as choreographer for his first WST production. Burcheri is serving his first season as the Walnut's Mainstage music director and has provided music direction for the WST for Kids series, where his arrangements can be heard in the upcoming production of A Christmas Carol. He also served as the associate conductor on Annie and Holiday Inn. Roby's work as a choreographer has been seen in Broadway Backwards (New Amsterdam Theatre), Disney's Beauty and the Beast (La Mirada and Pittsburgh CLO), Disney's The Little Mermaid (The 5th Avenue Theatre), Hairspray (Sugar Loaf PAC), and Little Shop of Horrors (Sacramento Music Circus). As a performer, Robbie was the dance captain for the Broadway/Touring productions of Hairspray, Billy Elliot, and Monty Python's Spamalot.
Assuming the titular role of Shrek will be Nichalas Parker. Parker participated in the Walnut's Acting Apprenticeship program in 2013 and has since performed in multiple WST productions including Civil War Voices, A Funny Thing....the Forum, The Wizard of Oz, and Peter and the Starcatcher. He undergoes a costume and make-up process that takes up to an hour and a half in order to become the big green ogre. When he is not performing, Parker works as a resident teaching artist in Philadelphia, teaching students with multiple disabilities both at the Walnut Street Theatre and 1812 Productions. Everyone's favorite wise-cracking Donkey will be played by fellow WST acting apprentice alum Dana Orange. Audiences may recognize Orange from his regional appearances in Sister Act (Walnut), Ragtime (Eagle Theatre), In the Heights (Park Playhouse), and Evita (Resident Theatre Company). Completing the lead trio will be Julia Udine playing Princess Fiona. Udine was last seen on the Walnut stage in the one-woman show Tell Me on a Sunday. She has appeared in TV's Law and Order: SVU and All My Children, as well as on Broadway in The Phantom of the Opera, playing the role of Christine Daaé.
Walnut favorite Ben Dibble returns for his 23rd Walnut Mainstage production to play the conniving Lord Farquaad. Wearing custom-made knee pads, Dibble will transform into the pint-sized lord of Far Far Away. He recently starred as Dr. Frankenstein in this season's record-breaking production of Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein: The Musical. Dibble's other recent Walnut credits include Ken Ludwig's A Comedy of Tenors, Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn, and Annie. Taking flight as Dragon will be veteran actor Donnie Hammond. She was last seen at the Walnut in its production of In the Heights as Daniela and recently reprised that role alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda at Geva Theatre Center. Hammond will provide the voice for the 25-foot-long winged puppet, which will be operated by a team of on-stage puppeteers. Her other credits include Hands on a Hard Body (Theatre Under the Stars), King Lear (Quintessence Theatre Group), The Color Purple (Theatre Horizon), and Rent (Bucks County Playhouse). Leading the fairytale characters will be Adam Hoyak as Pinocchio. Hoyak has appeared in many regional productions, including Matilda (Walnut), Honk! (Delaware Theatre Co.), Triumph of Love (Bristol Riverside Theatre), Ragtime (Eagle Theatre), and Black Nativity (Theatre Horizon) where he earned a Barrymore Award for Best Ensemble in a Musical.
Playing the younger versions of Shrek and Fiona is a team of child actors from the local area. The dual roles of Young Shrek and Dwarf will be shared by Eddie Sims of West Chester, PA and Sean O'Neill of Wallingford, PA. The pair was most recently seen on the Walnut stage as "revolting children" in Matilda. Young Fiona will be played by Ellie Biron of Philadelphia, PA and Maren Schriver of Meadowbrook, PA. Biron starred in the titular role of Matilda in last year's production, where Schriver joined her as one of Matilda's classmates. Portraying Teen Fiona will be Camryn Josephine of Petersburg, NJ and Alexa Hunt of Manahawkin, NJ. Josephine most recently joined the cast of the Greater Ocean City Theatre Company's production of Annie while Hunt could be seen in the regional production Matilda at Surflight Theatre.
Returning to The Walnut to form Far Far Away's ensemble of fairytale misfits is Mark Donaldson (Matilda), Drew Franklin (Young Frankenstein), Jesse Jones (Legally Blonde The Musical), Bonnie Kelly (Young Frankenstein), Adam Mandala (Young Frankenstein), Kimberly Maxson (Holiday Inn), Cary Michele Miller (Young Frankenstein), Dallas Padoven (Legally Blonde), Fran Prisco (Young Frankenstein), Taylor Elise Rector (Mamma Mia!), Colleen Roberts (Holiday Inn), Audrey Simmons (Young Frankenstein), Chris Stevens (South Pacific), and Elliott Styles (Legally Blonde The Musical). The Walnut welcomes Elise Mestichelli to the Mainstage for her WST debut.
Making up the children's ensemble of storybook characters are Mia Bompensa (Annie) of Haddonfield, NJ; Nicky Intrieri (Matilda) of Haddon Heights, NJ; Caleb Rosenfeld (Matilda) of Wynnewood, PA; JoJo Schlecht (Matilda) of Willmington, DE; Akiva Schostak (Matilda) of Philadelphia, PA; and Aanand Shah (Disney's The Little Mermaid, Jr.) of Philadelphia, PA. Making their Walnut debuts in the children's ensemble will be Marley Ernenwein of Voorhees, NJ; Phoebe Hanson of Philadelphia, PA; Danny Hernandez of Hartfield, PA; Cecelia Kent of Oreland, PA; Greta Rebecca Kleinman of Cape May Courthouse, NJ; Emmalyn Koch of Audubon, PA;Emma Scherz of Mt. Laurel, NJ; and Alex Vacchiano of West Caldwell, NJ.
Scenic Designer Robert Kovach (Young Frankenstein, Holiday Inn, Forum, Annie) returns to the Walnut to recreate the iconic locations of Far Far Away, including Shrek's Swamp, the Red woods and Dragon's Keep. Kovach will be joined by Lighting Designer Charlie Morrison (Young Frankenstein, Disney's The Little Mermaid, A Christmas Story: The Musical) and Sound Designer Ed Chapman (Young Frankenstein, Holiday Inn, Forum, Annie). From Peter Pan to the Three Blind Mice and everything in-between, Costume Designer Mary Folino (Young Frankenstein, The Curious Incident...Night-Time, Matilda, Annie, Holiday Inn, South Pacific) will bring everyone's favorite fairytale characters from the pages of their storybooks to the Walnut's Mainstage.
SHREK THE MUSICAL runs at the Walnut November 5, 2019 - January 5, 2020. Open captioning will be available for the 7 p.m. performance on Sunday, December 1. There will be a talkback after the 8:00 p.m. performance on November 6 and after the 2:00 p.m. performance on December 17. This production is sponsored by Stradley Ronon. Media Partners are 6abc, Metro, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.