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Alliance Theatre presents 'Shrek the Musical'
by Bobby Tedder
February 19, 2014 09:17 AM | 2676 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff/Samantha M. Shal
Alliance Theatre costume designer Sydney Roberts works on the costume for the character Fiona in the in-house costume shop
Staff/Samantha M. Shal Alliance Theatre costume designer Sydney Roberts works on the costume for the character Fiona in the in-house costume shop
The kingdom of Far Far Away and surrounding swampland will soon have an Atlanta zip code.

That fictional locale, of course, is the setting of the Alliance Theatre’s production of “Shrek the Musical,” which runs Feb. 22 through March 16.

The show is based on William Steig’s 1990s book and the beloved Dreamworks film character — a kind-hearted ogre perpetually drawn into one fine mess or another courtesy of a ragtag circle of fairy tale friends and foes.

“The piece celebrates what is unique about all of us and encourages choices of kindness and acceptance,” said Alliance Director of Theatre for Youth Rosemary Newcott.

The musical, as produced by the Alliance, is a condensed — run time is one hour — and family friendly version of the Broadway hit.

“Shrek is classic cross-generational material,” Newcott said. “There is wit that appeals to adults and, of course, plenty to delight children. Therefore, the theatrical experience is truly shared by the entire family.”

Both the Peachtree Street adaptation and the show on the Great White Way feature the same original score crafted by David Lindsay-Abaire, book, and Jeanine Tesori, music.

A smaller cast, more puppets and some audience interaction further distinguishes Newcott and company’s version, though.

Moreover, the Alliance’s behind-the-scenes creative collective — while staying true to the source material — has opted to apply its own strokes of whimsy and texture to its portrait of the ogre’s tale.

Said costume designer Sydney Roberts, “The challenge has been to create the fairy tale characters out of real human beings. Farquaad is supposed to be really short, Shrek is an ogre with a donkey for a buddy, and Fiona transforms from human to ogre and back again.”

The set and lights are inspired by the work of several children’s fairy tale illustrators. Alliance designers studied the Broadway show for answers to their engineering queries while the former’s costume staff took to experimentation.

The results may ultimately speak for themselves — perhaps resoundingly so.

“Our design approach is our own — much more lovable than literal — so we had to come up with our own answers,” Roberts said. “Conceive, draw, shop, cut and sew, fit, cut and sew some more…that’s what we do.

“Then the actors get into everything and make it come to life. That is the magic of theater.”

For the director, all roads led back to the narrative.

“What became central was simple and beautiful visuals that conduct us on this unusual journey and mirror the simple and beautiful messages of the story,” said Newcott. “The idea that everyone at some time in their life has felt different or left out is at [its] core.”

The theater will also host its annual fundraising event Families Centerstage March 8. For one day only, the Woodruff Arts Center Galleria transforms into “Shrek Land,” a family fun fair with live performances, arts, crafts and music.

Confirmed participants for this year’s event include: the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Center for Puppetry Arts, Expressions in Motion Dance, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, High Museum of Art, Macaroni Kid and Zoo Atlanta.

Tickets include admission to either the 1 p.m. or 4 p.m. performance of the musical, with the festival happening in between.

If you go:

o What: “Shrek the Musical”

o When: Feb. 22 through March 16

o Where: Alliance Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St., Midtown

o Tickets: $35 for adults, $20 for children

o Information:

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