The Cowichan Musical Society will perform Shrek The Musical on the big stage at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre starting Jan. 27.
Following their successful staging last year of Beauty and the Beast, the CMS is taking on this beloved and hilarious fairy tale “in which curses are reversed, monsters get the girls, donkeys and dragons find love, and princesses are beautiful in all shapes and sizes.”
As in the children’s book and popular move version, grumpy, gruff, green ogre Shrek lives alone in his swamp.
Suddenly, his hermit existence is thrown open, when a group of homeless fairy tale characters — Pinocchio, the Gingerbread Man, the Three Little Pigs, and more — burst upon his swamp, seeking refuge from the persecution of the cruel, vertically-challenged Lord Farquaad.
In a desperate attempt to regain his swamp’s hermetic peace, Shrek enters the world for the first time in his life. He travels to Princess Fiona’s prison, rescues her from a fire-breathing dragon, and then — scariest of all — is forced to get to know the princess as he tries to bring her back to evil Farquaad.
To the determinedly unsocial ogre’s dismay, Fiona is very different from what he expected a princess to be.
She may even provoke Shrek’s most novel experience yet: love.
With dazzling sets, high energy dance numbers, and laughs by the minute, Shrek the Musical transforms the contemporary children’s book and popular animated feature film into a stage musical that is sure to entertain and make audiences believers in happy endings for all.
Irwin Killam, president of the Cowichan Musical Society, said that after two years of having stages and theatres mostly dark during the COVID-19 pandemic, the society wanted to do something fun and for families.
“We wanted something that was for all ages, and Shrek is a real good story as well with great musical numbers,” she said.
“We think people will want to come to see such an amusing and light-hearted show after the pandemic. The production has a cast of about 60 very talented actors with a wide range of ages.”
Killam said Shrek will be played by Graham Brockley, a practicing doctor who has had lead roles in Beauty and The Beast and other productions.
“Graham is an amazing singer and actor who is always well received by the audience,” she said.
Killam said Brockley was in musical theatre programs before his attention shifted to science and he decided to enter medical school, but he never gave up on theatre, much to everyone’s delight.
She said the lovable and funny donkey character in Shrek The Musical is played by 15-year-old Ryland Racicot, a student at Duncan’s Adage Dance Studio.
Killam said that, although young, Racicot has played parts in the CMS’s Beauty and The Beast and Mamma Mia! productions.
“This is Ryland’s first big role with us,” she said. “He was encouraged to audition for the show, but he didn’t expect to get a part. But he was fantastic in the audition for the role of Donkey, and he’s been just great in the rehearsals as well.”
Killam said Princess Fiona is played by Brenna Bazinet, who graduated from Calgary’s Ambrose University with a Bachelor of Music (Voice).
“Brenna has had parts in other productions, including Mary Poppins, but this is her first production with us,” she said.
“We encourage everyone to come back and enjoy live theatre again. Shrek The Musical is a lot of fun and good music and it will be a great show.”
Regular tickets for Shrek The Musical are $49, children eight and under get in for $39, Rows O-P tickets are $39 and Rows A and B tickets are $29.
This show is family fare, and starts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27, Saturday, Jan. 28, Friday, Feb. 3 and Saturday, Feb. 4.
There are two matinees scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 29 at 2 p.m. and Sunday Feb. 5, also at 2 p.m.