OREM — Chase Ramsey, the director of the opening production for the SCERA Center for the Arts indoor season, says "Shrek the Musical" is a show full of magic and imagination, one that families will enjoy.
"If you liked the movie 'Shrek,' you'll likely love 'Shrek the Musical,'" Ramsey said.
That's because the stage allows for more intimacy, Ramsey said, and puts the green ogre, a dragon, Pinocchio and beloved Shrek characters who turned the fairy tale story on its ear with comedy and craziness within five feet of the audience.
“I consistently relate Shrek to the (ugly) duckling tale, and so many people need to hear the message," Ramsey said. "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."
In a faraway kingdom turned upside down, things get ugly when an unseemly ogre shows up to rescue the 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.
Ramsey credits the music for enhancing what he believes is an already winning production. “The music is incredible,” he said.
Ramsey said 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 fairy tales. Adults will appreciate the show’s nuances and connect with the satire, Ramsey said.
“I hope that the bully and the bullied will walk out with a better understanding of love," Ramsey said. "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.”
The musical is based on the 2001 DreamWorks film and William Steig's book.
The original Broadway $25 million production opened in 2008 and closed in 2010, followed by a national tour.
Ramsey, who graduated from the theater program at Utah Valley University, directed “Rapunzel” earlier this year for SCERA’s Theatre for Young Audiences program.
If you go:
What: "Shrek The Musical"
Where: SCERA Center for the Arts indoor theater, 745 S. State, Orem
When: 7:30 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sept. 13-Oct. 5
Tickets: $12 adults, $10 children, seniors; available at the SCERA or by calling 801-225-ARTS
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.