SHREK -The Musical. Theatre Royal, Drury Lane 2011

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soundofnuns
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I booked one of the £45 DC seats for the 2nd last preview on the Saturday night. I knew I'd end up seeing it anyway so might aswell book while it's cheap. I guess it will be pretty much set by that stage?
wolfwolf
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I know Caroline is not to every ones taste( for I do not know why ) but Shrek is just fun is their anything wrong with that one of the problems is that the wonderful Billy Elliot is still running and will run for ever as it wonderful. And everyone compares every show to billy eillot . Priscilla is just crap and really I think what we are wanting is original theatre.
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As DreamWorks brings its most valuable franchise to the West End, in the form of 'Shrek -The Musical', the comany’s chief creative officer Bill Damaschke talks about the animated film studio’s ventures into live theatre

When Disney first made the shift from animated movies to musicals, it chose 'Beauty and the Beast' as its vehicle.
DreamWorks is employing the services of a princess, an ogre and a talking donkey.
'Shrek' marks the film studio’s first foray into musical theatre and comes to the London stage a decade after the belching, farting, ill-mannered green one first graced cinema screens, and 14 years after The House of Mouse made its West End bow.
This is the man who has brought the project to the stage - first in Seattle, then on Broadway and a US tour, and now to London - Bill Damaschke, chief creative officer for DreamWorks.
He has been with the company for much of his professional life, starting off at the studio 16 years ago. Before that, he had trained and worked as a musical theatre actor.
So, in 2003, when approached by Sam Mendes and Caro Newling from Neal Street Productions with the idea of turning the studio’s hit film 'Shrek' into a musical, he jumped at the chance.
“I love theatre. I have always loved theatre and from the beginning I had hoped that - not unlike what the Disney company has done quite amazingly - there would be some logical road that would lead to us producing live theatre. But it wasn’t a company agenda, it wasn’t on a business plan.”
Still, it felt like a natural next step for an organisation that Damaschke describes as functioning “like a giant repertory company”.
“People know what DreamWorks is because of Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen and what we do as a live action company, but as an animation company we’re actually quite a small studio - we produce in a very boutique way, we produce a couple of movies a year, or a couple of TV shows. We’re very hands on, it’s all done in house and it’s very collaborative and iterative, which is very similar to running a theatre company or producing theatre.”

Once the decision was taken to produce 'Shrek' in collaboration with Neal Street, DreamWorks set up its own theatrical division and began to assemble the transatlantic team behind the project which, in addition to Newling, includes Tim Hatley (designer) and Jason Moore and Rob Ashford (co-directors), David Lindsay-Abaire (book and lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori (music).
“We decided that if we were going to turn Shrek into a musical, the most successful one would be where we had really talented, fresh people working in theatre,” explains Damaschke. “What I admire about what Disney has done - especially with 'The Lion King' - is to take a giant concept and put it on that story. It’s Julie Taymor and African masks - they put a giant concept on top of the show.
“I think because the show itself was all animals, it was perhaps easy to pick one concept to put on the show. But 'Shrek' had many unique challenges because we have ogres, humans, princesses that turn into ogres, giant dragons and little tiny mice and gingerbread men. You couldn’t pick just one idea.
“Ultimately, what we thought is - it’s a very story-driven show and, as big as the show is and as splashy as it is as a musical, there are many moments when it’s about three people walking along in the woods - two of whom fall in love with each other and two of whom become best friends.
So, it’s a big musical, with a big heart, but it has some very intimate moments. It was about finding the right people to tell that story.”

After a few years in development, the show debuted in Seattle before moving to Broadway in December 2008. But despite costing a reported $20 million, it wasn’t quite the smash hit that DreamWorks might have hoped.
Damaschke is refreshingly honest about the struggles it faced - some of which were within its control and some outside.
“The critical reaction was mixed,” he acknowledges. “I think the show performed incredibly well during a difficult time. We were the top grossing show for many weeks and we were one of the top grossing shows for that year as well. I think the lessons from New York for us - I can put it into the things we can control and the things we can’t control.
“The thing we didn’t control is that the largest financial crisis was happening at the very moment we were opening the show. I remember I was shopping for opening night trinkets for people and Lehman Brothers collapsed that very day. So many people were being laid off - it was a scary time to be in New York. We opened in December and in January I think nine or ten shows closed - and some were long-runners like Hairspray.”

As for the things that were within DreamWorks’ control, well, Damaschke is convinced that they have now controlled them.
Several changes were made while the show was running on Broadway, with more incorporated when the production went on a US tour.
Now, before it opens at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane this summer, the tweaking has continued.
“The great gift of doing the tour and then coming to the West End is that if you actually did the work, if you actually went and sat in the theatre and listened to the audience and saw the places they loved and the places it wasn’t working so well and made lots of little changes, those little changes add up and some big changes can make a difference as well.”

One such major change has been a complete reworking of the dragon character. Originally, this was represented by a large dragon head with a chorus of female actresses whose costumes created the body. While visually impressive, this had one major setback - the dragon didn’t fly.
For the West End version, there’s now a giant 40ft puppet operated by puppeteers.
This means that the production has “a giant dragon that will fly in from the house, over the audience, dispose of Farquaad, do a victory lap and fly out over the audience. That’s what is was meant to be, that’s the moment in the movie,” says Damaschke.

With that and several other alterations to the book and running order, and with an all-new finale, DreamWorks is hopeful that the show can outperform the 15 months it played on Broadway - especially now it is not faced with the same scale of financial crisis going on outside the theatre.
“I hope it runs a very long time. I hope the audience here really embraces it. I hope that all the work we’ve done on the show over the last five years has really added up to the company and the production here being the best and the most evolved, and the best of everything we’ve learned along the way.
“It has the benefit of us sitting and watching hundreds and hundreds of performances in different cities across the United States. And the Shrek films were very successful here - I think the humour works really well in the UK.”

However 'Shrek -The Musical' performs at the box office, it’s unlikely to be the last you see of DreamWorks as a force in the West End and beyond.
While this has marked the studio’s first foray into theatre, it certainly isn’t their last.
Already, DreamWorks has adapted its animated movie 'Madagascar' into a family-friendly theatre tour in the US and there are plans for 'How to Train Your Dragon' to be turned into an arena spectacular with dragons created by Global Creatures, the creative team behind Walking with Dinosaurs.

Meanwhile, the studio is working with former Cirque du Soleil director Franco Dragone to develop a show “that is not a literal retelling of any of the stories of 'Kung Fu Panda', but is more a celebration of Kung Fu and Chinese culture and martial arts” that will feature the characters from the film.
But, insists Damaschke, that doesn’t mean that the studio is simply working through its back catalogue to see what it can transform into an all-singing, all-dancing stage show.
“After 'Shrek', I think there were all the logical questions - what else should we do, should we take all our movies and turn them into musicals?” he recalls. “The short answer is no, we shouldn’t, because they don’t all deserve to be musicals - but there are really interesting and unique live experiences we can create out of these worlds.”

That has led to the arena tours, but also to DreamWorks teaming up with Royal Caribbean to create entertainment for cruise ships - 'How to Train Your Dragon on Ice' (“Vikings on ice skates”, says Damaschke with a wry smile) and a water show based on 'Madagascar'.
Something Damaschke is particularly proud of is the studio’s plans to create some all-new stage shows that are not based on any of its films. The company currently has four original productions at different stages of development
“For two of them, the teams are really coming together, two of them are a little earlier. Two are completely original ideas, not based on anything. That, I’m very excited about. One of them is based on a movie that is not an animated movie, one is based on a famous story. All are musicals,” he says.
“The lesson for me from 'Shrek' is I know what it takes. I know what it takes to do it well, so you’re not going to see a list from DreamWorks Theatricals of 25 things we’re working on, because that’s not the business we’re in. Just like with the movies, each one of these is our baby and we’re going to put all of our heart and soul, energy and resources in it.”
Jonwo
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I'm surprised Dreamworks isn't developing The Prince of Egypt as a stage musical, it's a very good film which could be easily be fleshed out. I do like Dreamworks Animation's films but none of their recent ones like Kung Fu Panda or How To Train Your Dragon could be adapted as musicals but it's interesting that theyre developing musicals not based on their backcatalogue unlike Disney where Aida is the only musical not based on their films.
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greeny11
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I'm quite looking forward to seeing this - I've got the original cast recording and really enjoyed it. Not too sure about Amanda Holden to be honest, I'm not sure she will do the role justice.
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Mark_E
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I have high hopes for Amanda in this. She looks fabulous!!! Hoping to get day seats for the second preview on Saturday.
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bob8rich
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Good luck to Amanda and all the cast - I'm sure everone will do a great job. But I'm afraid I can't summon up the courage to sit through this show again. I saw it in New york and thought it was utter rubbish - one of the most painfully awful visits I've ever made to a theatre (not quite as horrific as LND but pretty close LOL).
THEATRE 2019: ASPECTS OF LOVE**** FRANKENSTEIN (Paris)**** AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE**** COMPANY***** [title of show]**** CAN CAN*** THE CEREAL CAFE**** BAD GIRLS**** RAGS***** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** FOLLIES***** ROMANCE ROMANCE**** THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES*** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** QUEEN OF THE MIST**** SIX** THE PRICE***** MAGGIE MAY **** CALENDAR GIRLS** MAN OF LA MANCHA**** WAITRESS***** FANNY AND STELLA*** ELEGIES FOR ANGELS PUNKS AND RAGING QUEENS**** AMOUR*****
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MusicalBoy
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I wouldn't mind amanda holden doing theatre if they didn't keep offering her Sutton Foster roles. Sutton Foster, in my mind, can do no wrong, so why do they keep casting Amanda Holden, a commercial west end barbie doll, in exclusively the same roles?
greeny11
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My problem is that Amanda is far too old for the part - she's 40 and Princess Fiona is in her 20s. Plus, I cannot see her singing the songs anywhere near as well as Sutton did. But, I am willing to give her a chance and hope she will surprise me.
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Mark_E
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It is suggested that Fiona is actually over 30. On day number 23 in the tower, Fiona is around 10/11 years old (or so it appears), around Age 13/14 day 958, making her around 33/34 by day 8423. It's all in the lyrics guys :P
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MusicalBoy
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I think a little imagination is needed,

My concerns aren't about age, they're about talent, or the lack of it.
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bob8rich
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I honestly don't think it matters who they cast. I saw Sutton, who was absolutely wonderful, but even she could not stop the show from being B.A.F. lol
THEATRE 2019: ASPECTS OF LOVE**** FRANKENSTEIN (Paris)**** AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE**** COMPANY***** [title of show]**** CAN CAN*** THE CEREAL CAFE**** BAD GIRLS**** RAGS***** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** FOLLIES***** ROMANCE ROMANCE**** THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES*** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** QUEEN OF THE MIST**** SIX** THE PRICE***** MAGGIE MAY **** CALENDAR GIRLS** MAN OF LA MANCHA**** WAITRESS***** FANNY AND STELLA*** ELEGIES FOR ANGELS PUNKS AND RAGING QUEENS**** AMOUR*****
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MusicalBoy
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Did you like the movie, Bob?
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bob8rich
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Never watched the movie. Never appealed to me - in fact, I never watch ANY animated movies, just can't find them credible enough to enjoy. I only went to see Shrek coz I always try to see any new show - plus I enjoyed the stage versions of other animated movies (Beauty & the Beast, Little Mermaid, etc.). But the difference with Shrek was, while the others had fabulous scores by Alan Menken, the Shrek score is bland, boring and pretty much tuneless. AND the book, IMO, is utter drivel, filled with the kind of forced humour that makes me want to scream rather than laugh. Can't over-exaggerate how much I hated this show lol.
THEATRE 2019: ASPECTS OF LOVE**** FRANKENSTEIN (Paris)**** AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE**** COMPANY***** [title of show]**** CAN CAN*** THE CEREAL CAFE**** BAD GIRLS**** RAGS***** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** FOLLIES***** ROMANCE ROMANCE**** THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES*** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** QUEEN OF THE MIST**** SIX** THE PRICE***** MAGGIE MAY **** CALENDAR GIRLS** MAN OF LA MANCHA**** WAITRESS***** FANNY AND STELLA*** ELEGIES FOR ANGELS PUNKS AND RAGING QUEENS**** AMOUR*****
Updated On: 5/2/11 at 08:28 AM
DeNada
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I know you hate Jeanine Tesori bob but seriously, the Shrek score has many faults but any score that includes a song as beautiful as Who I'd Be deserves SOME credit.
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bob8rich
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I don't deny that many people may find things to like in the score - as always it depends on personal taste. I'm afraid there was nothing in the score that was to my taste - including Who I'd Be, which I'm afraid left me totally cold (it's just so bland and predictable to me and more "boring" than "beautiful").

But then I know that some songs that totally blow me away some people don't like at all. Everyone's different and everyone will have his/her own list of favourite shows etc. But in my personal list of shows Shrek would be placed in the list of the 6 shows I've hated the most of all the shows I've ever seen.



THEATRE 2019: ASPECTS OF LOVE**** FRANKENSTEIN (Paris)**** AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE**** COMPANY***** [title of show]**** CAN CAN*** THE CEREAL CAFE**** BAD GIRLS**** RAGS***** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** FOLLIES***** ROMANCE ROMANCE**** THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES*** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** QUEEN OF THE MIST**** SIX** THE PRICE***** MAGGIE MAY **** CALENDAR GIRLS** MAN OF LA MANCHA**** WAITRESS***** FANNY AND STELLA*** ELEGIES FOR ANGELS PUNKS AND RAGING QUEENS**** AMOUR*****
Updated On: 5/2/11 at 10:11 AM
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MusicalBoy
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I'm picking one new show to see in July, and at the moment, I'm liking the Shrek score MUCH more than Ghost, from what I've heard, and I can't seem to get Morning Person or Forever out of my head.
candydog2
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What I can't get my head around is this new idea for the dragon that "Flies in from the house, disposes of Farquad, does a victory lap and flies out into the audience again" AND it's a huge 40ft puppet! How's that going to work? If it flies in from the house where will it be kept during the show? Will they have closed off the highest seating tier to accommodate it?
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DeathStar
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I've been kinda out of the loop on this show, busy on other things but catching up now - is it selling well at the moment, does anyone know?
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MamasDoin'Fine
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Not selling too well at all at the mo. They already know they are gonna have to start a big campaign pretty soon after it opens next week.
My tickets for next Thursday just arrived. papering like mad.
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Mark_E
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^Get me some??? :P

I'm gonna try get dayseats for one of the first performances this weekend.
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songanddanceman2
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MusicalBoy after seeing both Shrek and Ghost i can say 1000000 percent that Ghost is by far the better show in every way......though its less green lol
Namo i love u but we get it already....you don't like Madonna
DeathStar
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Thanks for the updates. Sounds roughly as I imagined. Still will pop over and see what it's like.