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The City Journals

‘Shrek the Musical’ to bring laughs and tunes to Murray Amphitheater stage

Jul 07, 2021 12:42PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Ogres are like onions. Not just because they stink or make you cry, but because they have layers. While not everybody likes onions, they’ll probably like “Shrek the Musical.” The Murray Arts Council presents the lovable ogre July 9-10, 12, 15-17 at the Murray Amphitheater (495 E. 5300 South).

“Shrek the Musical” follows an ogre who fights to keep his home after the wicked Lord Farquaad evicts a group of fairytale creatures on his land. Shrek ends up tasked with rescuing Princess Fiona from a dragon-guarded castle. Aided by his friend, a talking donkey, he rescues the princess and quickly learns that looks can be deceiving.

Based on the 2001 DreamWorks Animation film “Shrek,” along with elements of its sequels: “Shrek 2,” “Shrek Forever After” and William Steig's 1990 book “Shrek!”, the musical was developed with music by Jeanine Tesori and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire. It debuted on Broadway in 2008, with a movie version of the musical released in 2013.

“‘Shrek’ makes fun of the fairytale format with references to other musicals and movies, parodies of well-worn story tropes, and larger-than-life characters. There is a reason the movie is so beloved,” director Brighton Sloan said.

Taking on the lead role of Shrek is Taylor Smith, a graduate of the Actor Training Program at the University of Utah, who was recently seen in “A Tale of Two Cities” at Hale Centre Theatre. Starring as Fiona, Amber Kacherian is just coming off her performance in the Draper Historic Theatre production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Playing the wisecracking Donkey is Dugan Brunker, a recent graduate from Weber State’s Music Education program. The villainous Lord Farquaad is played by Lucas Charon, whose resume includes the Hale Centre and CenterPoint Legacy Theatres.

“We've assembled a killer cast of very experienced performers, and you'll be seeing a lot of choreography,” Sloan said. The chorus will feature many Murrayites taking on multiple roles: Big Bad Wolf, Jacob Bowsersox; Dragon, Emily Wells; Fairy Godmother, Aleisha Carver; Gingy, Camree McKenna; Pinnochio, Samuel Wright; Mama Ogre/Humpty Dumpty, Emily Voorhees; King Harold/Poppa Bear, Elijah Harris; Papa Ogre/Little Pig/Thelonius, David Peterson; Peter Pan, Ashley Peterson; Queen Lillian/Momma Bear, Alina Mower; Sugar Plum Fairy, Jessalyn Kranz; Teen Fiona/Pixie, Paige Sutherland; Little pig No.1, Carson Sena; Little pig/Grumpy, Ryder James; Ugly Duckling, Beth Weber; White Rabbit, Sylvia Seitz; Wicked Witch, Jaxon Chidwick; Young Fiona/Tinkerbell/Young Shrek/Baby Bear, Kennedy Harris and Jayda Bell.

“Not only do they have amazing vocals, but they can deliver on the humor,” Sloan said.

According to Sloan, “The musical is a heavy ensemble piece, with the cast playing three to five roles each. We get to know the fairytale creatures a bit better, and it really hammers home the message of how being different makes us special. The music is also brand new and features some really fabulous production numbers like ‘Freak Flag,’ ‘What's Up Duloc,’ and ballads like ‘Who I'd Be.’”

This isn’t Sloan’s first musical at the Murray Amphitheater; she directed the 2018 production of “The Secret Garden.” Supporting Sloan backstage, the production staff includes Karllen McDonald, music director/assistant director; Heather Sessions, choreographer; Kia Armstrong, stage manager; Ricky Parkinson, set design; Lexie Ostler, costume design; and Michelle Garcia, makeup design.

Tickets for “Shrek the Musical” are available online at murraycity.smashpass.com, at the Murray Parks & Rec office, or at the gate. 

“The show has a lot of laughs, but it packs a strong emotional punch. It will surprise you with how touching it can be, especially for those of us who have ever felt ‘other’—whether because of our looks, our gender expression, or what our interests are. There are so many who don't fit the fairytale mold, which is why this story has made such an impact on the culture—plus, it will make you laugh ‘til you cry,” Sloan said.