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posted: 9/1/2014 1:01 AM

'Shrek the Musical' comes to ECC

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  • The Children's Theatre of Elgin and Fox Valley Theatre Company will present "Shrek the Musical" at Elgin Community College's Blizzard Theatre.

      The Children's Theatre of Elgin and Fox Valley Theatre Company will present "Shrek the Musical" at Elgin Community College's Blizzard Theatre.
    COURTESY CHILDREN'S THEATRE OF ELGIN

  • Korey Hughes and Kaylee Hoffman are part of the cast of the Children's Theatre of Elgin and Fox Valley Theatre Company production of "Shrek the Musical," running weekends Sept. 5-14.

      Korey Hughes and Kaylee Hoffman are part of the cast of the Children's Theatre of Elgin and Fox Valley Theatre Company production of "Shrek the Musical," running weekends Sept. 5-14.
    COURTESY CHILDREN'S THEATRE OF ELGIN

 
By Karen Karner
Children’s Theatre of Elgin

Everyone's favorite upside-down fairy tale comes to Elgin in September when the Fox Valley Theatre Company presents "Shrek the Musical," a song- and dance-filled stage adaptation of the award- winning animated film.

"Shrek the Musical" opens Friday, Sept. 5, and runs weekends through Sunday, Sept. 14, at the Blizzard Theatre at Elgin Community College.

For its 17th season, Fox Valley Theatre Company re-creates the fantasy Kingdom of Far Far Away, complete with many hilarious, irreverent twists. Instead of a knight riding a noble steed, the hero is Shrek, a swamp-dwelling, green ogre who teams up with a chatterbox donkey. And the princess? She's the slightly temperamental Fiona. After Shrek rescues Fiona from a dragon-guarded tower, the two fall in love before she reveals there's more to her than meets the eye.

Other fairy-tale misfits -- from a Gingerbread Man with an attitude to Three Blind Mice channeling their inner Dreamgirls -- add surprises as well.

This entertaining and family-friendly show is based on the 2001 DreamWorks Pictures film, which won the first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Three sequels followed the original hit movie.

"Broadway has seen its share of recent musicals based on popular films, but 'Shrek the Musical' takes on iconic material, because of the entire franchise's extraordinary popularity," said "Shrek" director Andy Bero, himself an alumnus of Fox Valley Theater Company. "It has been great fun to take material so well-known from the animated features and see it, in the hands of our talented cast, become a completely satisfying theater production for all ages."

Jeanine Tesori wrote the music and David Lindsay-Abaire wrote the books and lyrics. The 19 songs include "Who I'd Be," "Travel Song" and "I've Think I Got You Beat."

"Shrek the Musical" also draws from a 1990 children's book by famed "New Yorker" cartoonist William Steig. Like the first Shrek film, the musical stays true to Steig's fractured fairy-tale vision where dragons are friendly, swamps are better abodes than castles, and the true hero isn't handsome or noble but a grouchy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside ogre who is more or less content with himself and his waterlogged life.

"At its core, 'Shrek' is a story of our need to belong, and the courage to be exactly who you are," said Bero. "We see our own uncertainties and emotions: our flaws, our longing to find happiness, our insecurities.

"In the end, each character embraces his or her flaws. They find -- and we learn -- that it's OK to be different. Can there possibly be a more important message for our children?"

"Shrek the Musical" premiered in 2008. It was the most expensive show ever produced on Broadway and played for more than a year, earning numerous Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations.

Fox Valley Theatre's production will feature talented young adults from around the area coming from communities such as Streamwood, Algonquin, Elgin, St. Charles, as well as Elgin.

Bero directs; Chris Cherry is vocal director; and Heather Goldman is choreographer for this Fox Valley Theatre Company production. The 60-member cast features Jordan Pedigo of Elgin as Shrek; Kaylee Hoffman of West Dundee as Fiona; Colin Bokowy of Algonquin as the villain Lord Farquaad and Korey Hughes of Carpentersville as Donkey.

After each performance, the cast and crew gather in the theater lobby to meet audience members.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 5-14, at the Blizzard Theatre, ECC Arts Center, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors, students and children. To order tickets, visit elgin.edu/vpacevents, call (847) 622-0300, or stop by the Blizzard Theatre Box Office. For details on "Shrek the Musical" or the theater company, visit www.cteelgin.com.

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