The Dubai leg of the Tony-nominated Shrek The Musical tour begins at Dubai Opera on Wednesday, and theatregoers can expect “big songs, bright colours and lots of fun and laughter”, one of its lead actors says.
The show, which is based on the DreamWorks animation of the same name, follows the story of the titular ogre who will do anything to get his peaceful swamp back, even if that means rescuing a princess trapped in a dragon-guarded tower for years.
The musical combines elements from the 2001 film, as well as its sequels Shrek 2 and Shrek Forever After. The show had its premiere in 2008, and has since been staged around the world, including in the UK, France, Singapore and China. This is its second visit to the UAE, having been shown in 2016.
“Shrek the Musical is the same story we’ve all grown to love, but this time with added flare and more in-depth characters,” Karla Lyford, who plays Princess Fiona, tells The National.
“This is a chance to be fully immersed in the story to see what Shrek and Donkey get up to on their adventure, to see what being trapped in a castle for 20 years has done to Fiona, and to enjoy the brilliant dancing and fun that the fairy tale creatures create right in front of your eyes,” she says.
The New Zealand actress, who has appeared in productions of Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera, says it is a “dream come true” to be performing in the Middle East, where the audiences are “incredible and very interactive”.
“I feel so welcome here by everyone, and I'm constantly pinching myself as I can’t believe this is real,” she says.
Her co-star, Falstaff Dowling-Mitchell, who plays Shrek, is confident the audience will have a good time.
“There are beautiful characters, hilarious jokes, unbelievable costumes, delightful music, lessons about believing in yourself and a hugely talented cast to perform for you,” he says.
One of the challenges playing the green ogre is the costume, which is a large padded suit and a green prosthetic head. Dowling-Mitchell says the role is physically demanding, wearing the “prosthetics and a heavy costume while singing and dancing”. The show features more than 20 musical numbers throughout two hours.
Dowling-Mitchell says he had to make sure he was physically “fit and strong”.
“I studied the way Shrek thinks, talks and moves, so that I’m the best ogre I can be.”
More than the production values of the show, Dowling-Mitchell says it's the theme, portrayed especially through Shrek himself, that's worth highlighting.
“Playing Shrek, when he dares to dream and understands that he might be able to achieve what he always thought would be impossible, I feel powerful.”
Shrek The Musical is at Dubai Opera from Wednesday until Sunday; from Dh275; dubaiopera.com