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Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013

First Stage Presents ‘Shrek The Musical’

A Big Monster on a small stage

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Author-cartoonist William Steig had a prolific career prior to publishing a story about a big green ogre going out to see the world. The book that was to launch a franchise came roughly half a century after Steig’s earliest work as an illustrator. His biggest success didn’t happen until after he hit 80 years of age. Shrek! was published in 1990. Years later, it’s an immense franchise. The movies alone brought in well over $3.5 billion in gross ticket sales. There have also been TV specials, video games, endless bits of merchandising and a musical, which debuted half a decade ago. That musical now makes it to the Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Auditorium in a First Stage Children’s Theater production.

At the time of its Broadway premiere, it was one of the most expensive musicals ever to open. As a result, its relatively brief run was scarcely a success. Since then, a modified version has toured the country. What First Stage has that a touring production doesn’t is the ability to craft its staging specifically to the intimate space of the Todd Wehr Auditorium. Director Jeff Frank promises a Shrek carefully crafted specifically for that stage.

The reality and the humanity of the musical is brought that much closer to the audience in a show that has more than enough of a budget to look good onstage without getting lost in the sheer immensity of a huge Broadway-style production at a much, much larger venue. Thus, what started out as a humble, charming children’s book by an octogenarian and then became a big multi-media monster is now brought back to earth in a package that should have no trouble connecting with kids and adults alike.

First Stage’s Shrek The Musical runs Oct. 11-Nov. 17, at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, 929 N. Water St. For tickets, call 414-267-2961 or visit firststage.org.

Theatre Happenings

In Tandem Theatre opens its season with the Wisconsin premier of M.E.H. Lewis’ South African drama Burying the Bones, Oct. 4- 27, at the Tenth Street Theatre, 628 N 10th St. For tickets, call 414-271-1371 or visit intandemtheatre.org.

 

Storyteller Theater of Milwaukee returns with another program of “spooky, family friendly campfire tales,” Zombie Jamboree: Graveyard Follies, Oct. 10-20, at St. Thomas More High School, 2601 E. Morgan Ave. Tickets are $10 at the door, or $5 for students and seniors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAGS: First Stage Children’s Theater, Shrek The Musical, Russ Bickerstaff, William Steig, Shrek!, Todd Wehr Auditorium, Jeff Frank, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

 

TAGS Happenings: In Tandem Theatre, M.E.H. Lewis, Burying the Bones, apartheid, Tenth Street Theatre, Storyteller Theater of Milwaukee, Zombie Jamboree: Graveyard Follies, St. Thomas More High School, Russ Bickerstaff