“Shrek The Musical” is a fairytale romance complete with a kindly ogre, a beautiful princess and a scheming villain, but this one also brings a message: “Beauty isn’t always pretty.”
“That’s what the show’s about,” said Robert Hingula, who portrays Shrek. “It doesn’t matter how you look. You can still be beautiful.”
“Unfortunately, not everyone looks at people the way Shrek does,” said Jessica Alcorn, who as Princess Fiona is pursued by the evil Lord Farquaad. “When I turn into an ogre I’m ashamed of how I look, but to Shrek I’m still beautiful.
“I love the message of this show — what’s not to love?” said Tim Bair, producing artistic director of The Theatre in the Park, who directs “Shrek.” “Love people for who they are, not what they are. Be yourself. Let your freak flag fly.”
“Shrek” is being co-produced by The Theatre in the Park and the Jewish Community Center. It is now in the White Theatre at JCC. The show moves to The Theatre in the Park on July 31.
“Shrek” is the second show the theaters have collaborated on. The first was “Hairspray” in 2013. The theaters share the cost of costumes, sets and props and each keeps its own gate receipts. The cast is the same and Bair directs shows at both theaters.
“Our relationship has been great,” Bair said. “It worked so well the first time we decided to do it again. It allows us to put on great shows and share the production costs, which is very beneficial. Plus the cast has an opportunity to perform a total of 15 times.”
When the show is at the Theatre in the Park, the role of The Bishop will feature a cameo by a different Kansas City celebrity each night, including Will Shields, KC Live host Joel Nichols and Fox 4’s Carey Wickersham and Matt Stewart.
“Shrek” is the 10th show for Hingula at The Theatre in the Park and his sixth at White Theatre. He’s joined on stage by his wife, Melissa, who performs in the ensemble as a wicked witch and the Queen Mother. Their daughter, Darcie, 12, plays teenage Princess Fiona. “It’s fun to be in a show with my family. We talk about it a lot at home,” Darcie said.
“We’ve always been a theatrical family and we enjoy being together on stage,” Hingula said. “This show in particular has been an absolute blast. We’ve had so much fun. We were together in ‘Peter Pan’ in 2013. I had two roles, the evil Captain Cook and the nice Mr. Darling, and Melissa was Mrs. Darling. Darcie was one of the Lost Boys.”
The versatile Hingula played the barber in “Sweeney Todd,” the 2012 season opener, and Snoopy in the season’s finale “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.”
“‘Shrek’ is a family favorite of ours, especially for Darcie,” he said. “‘Shrek’ is great for kids but it has moments that adults can relate to. The message makes it special for everyone. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder,” he added. “I think Shrek’s song at the show’s end, ‘Who I’d Be,’ is so appropriate.”
Getting made up is a bit of a challenge for Hingula. “It’s a pretty complicated process. It takes a couple of hours to turn me into the swamp-dwelling Shrek. Actually it’s not as bad as I expected. It’s fine in air-conditioning and I’m hoping for the lower 80s when we move to The Theatre in the Park,” he said.
Alcorn, a 2009 Olathe East graduate, is in her 15th season at The Theatre in the Park. Her first show was “Evita” when she was 10. She had the lead role of Tracy Turnblad in “Hairspray” two years ago. “That was fun. I liked being Tracy. Princess Fiona is my dream role. I’m glad I got to play it,” she said.
“I’m a beautiful Princess who turns into an ogre. Two ogres beginning a new life together,” she said with a laugh. “That’s why I like the line ‘sometimes beauty isn’t always pretty.’”
Alcorn said her favorite song is “Morning Person.” “I’m on stage by myself, singing and acting a little goofy, the way I like to look at life. It fits my personality. I also get to tap dance,” she said.
Omari Collins, 20, plays the wise-cracking Donkey who Shrek rescues from Lord Farquaad’s guards and becomes his best friend. “I saw the movie. When I heard it was on The Theatre’s 2015 season I decided to audition,” said Collins, a sophomore at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. “I liked the movie and I love the show.”
“My favorite scene is when we encounter the Dragon for the first time. There’s a lot of action, everyone running around,” he said. “It’s just an amazing show. I was in ‘Honk’ last year. It was fun, too.”
Collins is majoring in musical theater. “It’s my career choice. I’ve loved theater since I was in the sixth grade,” he said.
Lord Farquaad, the show’s villain, is portrayed by Kipp Simmons, who performs frequently at The Theatre in the Park and was Officer Lockstock in “Urinetown” in 2012.
Farquaad was poised to marry Princess Fiona but was repulsed when she unexpectedly turned into an ogre. He ordered her banished and Shrek killed. But Donkey summoned the Dragon, who incinerates Farquaad with her fiery breath, to the enjoyment of all.
“Shrek” runs July 16, 18, 23 and 25 at 7:30 p.m. and July 19 and 26 at 2 p.m. in White Theatre at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park.
The show moves to The Theatre in the Park in Shawnee Mission Park July 31, Aug. 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8. Curtain time is 8:30 for all shows.