Egyptian Theatre goes head ogre heels with ‘Shrek’
One year ago this month, the Ogden-based Ziegfeld Theatre Company presented "Spamalot" at the Egyptian Theatre.
The company enjoyed Park City so much it brought in "The Producers" this past September. For its next trick, the Ziegfeld Theatre Company will present "Shrek the Musical" this weekend and next at the Egyptian Theatre.
"Shrek the Musical" is based on the 2001 computer-animated fantasy directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson. The story follows a loveable ogre named Shrek, Fiona, the woman he loves, and his sidekick Donkey.
Caleb Parry, who owns Ziegfeld Theatre Company with his wife Morgan, is the director of "Shrek the Musical," and said the production is perfect because it appeals to a wide audience.
"We wanted to do something that was funny, family-friendly, and something that adults would also like," Parry said during an interview with The Park Record. "’Shrek’ fits the bill all around."
The musical conforms nicely to the company’s mission, which is "Yes And?"
"It’s an old improvisation term and what we try to do is accept ideas, make them better and send them on their way," Parry explained. "We like to do things that are based on movies, because those are a lot of fun."
The Ziegfeld Theatre Company also runs a nonprofit organization called the Little Ziggys Program where it takes musical theater workshops into schools."
Some of the Little Ziggys projects include writing plays with students and presenting plays with entire student bodies of elementary schools.
"It’s fun to reach out to these kids and see their reactions to what we do," Parry said. "’Shrek’ filters into that concept and helps with our mission of reaching out to kids and families and showing them that there is something here for them that we do.
"If you think about it, the theater-going crowd who want to see the Golden-Age musical are getting on," he said. "So you’ve got to make theater accessible to teens and people in their 20s."
Once the audience members are in their seats, they can see something that is new, cool and fresh but still done as musical theater.
"It tells a story in a way that no other art form can," Parry said. " doing productions like ‘Shrek,’ you are reaching people who grew up with the films."
Performing a musical based on a popular film does have its challenges, however.
"One of those is just dealing with the expectations that come with these types of shows," Parry said. "In this one, the main character has to look and sound like Shrek. Donkey has to sound like Donkey and Fiona has to have all the spunk and heart she needs."
Since the films had the star power of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz in those roles, the actors who are in the live musical need to fit those roles.
Shrek in the musical is played by Layne Wilden.
"If Shrek was ever to be put into a live body, it would be him," Parry said. "He’s six-foot-two, weighs more than 300 pounds and is just an awesome ball of love."
Fiona is portrayed by Heidi Hunt and Donkey is played by Daniel Akin.
"Everyone has seen the movies a million times, so as a theatre troupe you have to pay homage to those characters, while, at the same time, find a way to do your own thing," Parry said.
"Shrek the Musical" follows the first "Shrek" film closely, but adds more depth to the characters.
"It’s like there’s more heart," Parry explained. "It allows the audience to see more of the story of how the love between Shrek and Fiona blossoms and that kind of fun stuff."
Parry likes the fact that his company has the opportunity to bring productions to Park City.
"We love the difference in audiences between Ogden and Park City," Parry said. "We’re working on building the audience in Ogden and that’s fun, but there is already a high appreciation of the arts in Park City."
He also likes working with the Egyptian Theatre crew.
"They are amazing," Parry said. "We don’t have quite as technical elements in our theater in Ogden as we do in Park City, so it’s interesting to see the differences."
Another reward for Parry and his company is how the actors interact with the children in the audience.
"One of the fun things for us when we perform ‘Shrek’ is that after the show, we have our characters come out into the lobby to take pictures with the kids," he said. "It’s so fun for us to see their reactions when they are able to see their favorite characters right in front of them."
Parry also enjoys watching the grown ups during these sessions.
"It’s also fun to see the adults, too, because they have watched the films with their kids and they are able to share something unique with each other," he said. "It’s almost like a Disneyland trip where you can see the characters up close. They’re there and bigger than life."
The Ziegfeld Theatre Company will present "Shrek the Musical" at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., over two weekends, Nov. 21 through Nov. 23, and Nov. 28 through Nov. 30. Curtain for Nov. 21, 22, 28 and 29 is 8 p.m. There will be Saturday matinees at 4 p.m. and Curtain for Nov. 23 and 30 is 6 p.m. Tickets range from $35 to $60 for adults and $29 to $40 for children ages 12 and younger. For more information or to buy tickets, visit http://www.parkcityshows.com.
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