What... (i.e. camp, dance class, birthday party)
        
 
Pick a NYMetroParents Region: All Regions   Manhattan    Brooklyn    Queens    Westchester    Rockland   Fairfield    Nassau    Suffolk  

Resources

   

BRIAN D’ARCY JAMES ON SHREK THE MUSICAL

     Home  >  Articles  > Culture/Entertainment
by Griffin Miller

Related: Shrek, Broadway, musical, theater, fairytale,


It takes a lot of courage, patience, and dedication to commit oneself to a pre-show ritual of cumbersome green prosthetics, a medieval fat suit, and guy tights. Even more impressive, the natural ability to elevate the physical phenomenon known as “flatulence” to an art form — on the Broadway stage, no less.  And yet, musical theater star Brian d’Arcy James does it all — with a wink and a belch and a swamp-ful of gusto.

   “It’s an amazing experience playing Shrek, feeling from the very beginning of the show how receptive the audience is to this big green ogre,” he says. “Shrek is a magnetizing character who draws kids in because they relate to him. He wants what they want: a friend and a home and to be happy.”

   Of course, to get to his happy ending place, Shrek must go through all those fairytale heroics that made the animated film version such a blockbuster (and led to two sequels, with two more in the planning). On the massive stage of the Broadway Theatre, though, having a flesh-and-blood Shrek, Princess Fiona, Donkey, Lord Farquaad — not to mention oodles of storybook personalities — to act out the exploits ratchets up the magical ante to spectacular proportions.

   D’Arcy James, who appreciates an irreverent, fantasy-packed adventure story as much as the next guy, has been a fan of the Shrek films since the get-go. “I’ve seen them all. I can even remember where I was when I saw them and with whom,” he recalls. “My daughter, Grace, loves the movies, too. She’s was 6 when I started working on the role and was definitely interested in how I was going to become the ogre.”

   Having a young child around during his metamorphosis certainly gave the Tony-nominated actor an interesting perspective. “As I was creating the role, I kept trying to imagine how this or that would impact her,” he says. “And early on there was some question as to where Daddy ended and the ogre began.”

   Which didn’t stop her from becoming an active participant in her father’s creative process. “She started giving me notes on my accent — letting me know what didn’t sound right,” he adds.

   The original story has been both embellished considerably from the engaging children’s book by William Steig, and lovingly tweaked for its transformation from screen to stage. In keeping with the overall spirit of Shrek, however, the musical definitely sticks with the original notion of reinventing the standard fairytale format.

   A curmudgeonly ogre — chartreuse, super chubby, with little trumpet ears — is the hero; a singing/dancing/standup-comic Donkey (played to hilt by the wonderful Daniel Breaker) is his devoted sidekick; and a gorgeous red-haired Princess with attitude to spare (Sutton Foster) is the object of his affection (and vice versa). Oh, and as for the villain — well, it’s one thing to see an embarrassingly puny Lord Farquaad cartoon, but quite another to see six-foot-plus actor Christopher Sieber portray the snarky evildoer on his knees with tiny faux leg appendages.

   d’Arcy James, who’s starred in such shows as Sweet Smell of Success and The Apple Tree, makes it clear that his fellow cast members make doing this show pure joy for him. “I’ve been in a lot of big musicals, but I will say that our director, Jason Moore, said from the beginning he was hell-bent on finding people who were hilarious and talented and willing to take risks,” he says. “I’ve never worked in an ensemble who has given so much thought to what they’re bringing to the parts. Each member of the company is amazing.”

   Still, it’s the audience — little kids and grownup kids who share a love for oddball romance and cheeky, gross-out humor — who bring it all home for d’Arcy James. “One of my favorite stories is about the cutest little girl — she couldn’t have been than 4 — who pulled me aside after a performance, and clearly she felt she had to tell me something very important. So I bent down and she said to me, very seriously: ‘I like to fart, too.’”

   And just in case you’re wondering, the stage musical has been a big hit with many of the stars from the film. Cameron Diaz (the voice of Princess Fiona) has seen the show twice, and Mike Meyers dropped in backstage prior to catching a performance in January. And while Meyers doesn’t have to deal with marathon makeup like d’Arcy James does when he plays Shrek, he empathizes thanks to his multiple roles in his Austin Powers films.

   “We commiserated,” says d’Arcy James, adding that Stephen Spielberg (DreamWorks Theatricals was responsible for the film) had some wonderful things to say about the show. “He said that after seeing the musical, it was hard to imagine the story without music. It was so kind of him to say that — and, quite thrilling to see how impressed he was.”

   Shrek the Musical is playing at the Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway (between 52nd and 53rd Streets). For reservations, call 212-239-6200.


Get Your FREE Indoor Activity eGuide!

More Culture/Entertainment Articles

Family Theater: 'Dear Edwina' is Back in New York
Theater Review: Broadway's 'Elf: The Musical'
Children's Theater Review: Freckleface Strawberry
Movie Review: The Kids Grow Up
Children's Theater: Cool Fall Shows in NYC - October 2010

Be a good fellow parent and share this with a friend who would be interested
Email Friend

Local Culture/Entertainment Sponsors

Bartlett Tree Experts
2240 Saw Mill River Rd
Elmsford, NY
1-877-227-8538
Bartlett Tree Experts was founded in 1907 by Franc...

Art League of Long Island
107 E. Deer Park Road
Dix Hills, NY
631-462-5400
Year round classes offered in watercolor, oil pain...

Fit for Golf-Set for Life Summer Golf School
3545 Jerome Ave
Bronx, NY
718-655-9164 EXT. 105
...

Early Childhood Center (The)
250 Bryant Ave.
White Plains, NY
914-949-4187
The Early Childhood Center is a nonsectarian, not-...

Vienna Music
41-08 Bell Blvd., 2nd Floor
Bayside, NY
718-423-1688
Vienna Music strives to provide a stage for all mu...
See Our Culture/Entertainment Directory

local zones

Nassau

Nassau cont.

Suffolk

Suffolk cont.

Westchester

Westchester cont.

Fairfield

Rockland

Rockland cont.

Queens

Queens cont.

Brooklyn

Brooklyn cont.

Manhattan

Copyright 2014 NY Metro Parents Magazine Site Design: THE VOICE