Life doesn't always go as planned -- even in fairy tales. But a few detours and reroutes can make for an adventurous trip -- as in the case of a hulking, green ogre named Shrek.
Unloved and abandoned, Shrek retreats to an ugly swamp to exist in happy isolation. But fate intervenes when a gang of homeless fairy-tale characters (including Pinocchio, The Mad Hatter, The Three Little Pigs, among others) raids his sanctuary.
Thus begins the fractured fairy tale that is "Shrek the Musical." This weekend, the Fox Valley Park District's Winter Stage production of this famous and award-winning musical will be performed at the Prisco Community Center -- four highly-anticipated shows -- Friday through Sunday, Jan. 10-12.
An energetic cast of 50 local performers ages 6 to adult will bring this highly acclaimed production to life in an all-singing, all-dancing, irresistible mix of adventure, laugher and romance.
"A big musical with Broadway flair, and very similar to the 2001 DreamWorks animated film," said performing arts manager Kyle Donahue. "It's kid-friendly and family-friendly, with a mix of cute funny-isms and adult humor."
"Shrek the Musical" tells the story of a swamp-dwelling ogre who goes on a life-changing adventure to reclaim the deed to his land. Joined by a wisecracking donkey, this unlikely hero fights a fearsome dragon, rescues a feisty princess and learns that real friendship and true love aren't only found in fairy tales.
The appeal of "Shrek" is all the fun that comes from the familiar characters -- the Disney spoof misfits -- and conventions of storybook land, done with an abundance of inside jokes to keep the adults as entertained as the kids.
In addition to the characters, the performers will be quite familiar to local audiences, with multiple family members up and down the cast -- many of whom have been with the park district's performing arts program for years.
That would include Shrek, played by Fabian Guerrero, who has grown up performing Winter/Summer Stage productions. Two of Fabian's siblings -- Yair and Yaretzi -- are among the cast as well.
Shrek's princess and love interest Fiona is played by Elisabeth Coster, who gives the character a charming spunk, along with a gorgeous soprano that makes her a total winner as leading lady.
Two professional stage veterans who have past experience in Paramount Theatre productions -- Dan Keller (Pinnochio) and Jake Ziman (the hilariously lovable but annoying Donkey) -- are among the many featured roles.
Jake Elkins takes on the role of Gingy, the cookie with an attitude, after portraying the love interest in last year's Winter Stage production. His sister, Allison Elkins, also joins the cast again this year as The Dragon. Lord Farquaad, the villain with a short temper, is played (on his knees) by Theatre Guild member Dave Dobes, whose two daughters are also in the production.
With loads of laughs and lots of heart, "Shrek" is big-sized fun for all ages. Beneath the goofy fun, it tells a tale of real friendship, true love, sorted life lessons -- and the trademark happy ending.
This lively score and upbeat story will leave you will leave you feeling lighthearted long after the silliness ends.
Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10-12, at the Prisco Community Center, 150 W. Illinois Ave., Aurora. Tickets are $8 and available online at www.seatyourself.biz/foxvalleyparkdistrict and in person at the Prisco Center. They're also available at the door, but the advantage of buying in advance is that you can reserve specific seating. For information, call (630) 859-8606.
Jeff Long is the public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org