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Grumpy green giant
Colorful scenery, upbeat tunes highlight ‘Shrek’
Pinocchio, portrayed by Robbie Hendrix, talks to Shrek, portrayed by Bryan Dunn, during the first act of “Shrek: The Musical” on Thursday at Patrick Henry Community College. The show is based on the 2001 Dreamworks movie “Shrek.” The tale is about an ogre who must rescue a princess in order to regain his swamp home, and get his fairytale friends back to the kingdom from which they were banished. The princess, however, is hiding something. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
“Shrek: The Musical” has come to life on stage at Patrick Henry Community College with a singing fire-breathing dragon, a cross-dressing wolf, detailed sets and costumes.
Once upon a time there was a little ogre who was told a story of a bright, beautiful world. Unfortunately, ogres are accustomed to misery.
“Bright Beautiful World” is the opening song in “Shrek.” The happy, upbeat tune with tambourines seems to allude to a wonderful life. However, the lyrics don’t promise a 7-year-old Shrek much to look forward to because the life described doesn’t pertain to ogres.
“Shrek: The Musical” is a stage adaptation of the 2001 Dreamworks movie “Shrek.” It is being presented by PHCC’s Patriot Players at the college’s Walker Fine Arts Center.
The center has been transformed into the miserable ogre’s swamp, complete with swamp gas. Shrek’s point of view is who needs a “bright beautiful world” when Shrek has his own world. That is until fairytale creatures wind up in Shrek’s swamp.
Shrek goes on a mission to rescue Princess Fiona to regain his swamp from the fairytale creatures. The creatures have been banished from their home by Lord Farquaad. Farquaad agrees to allow the creatures to come back and give Shrek ownership of his swamp once again on one condition. Shrek must rescue the princess and bring her to Farquaad so they can marry and he can become king.
Along the way, Shrek meets Donkey, a lively animal that accompanies him on his journey. No one knows that Princess Fiona is hiding a secret.
The fairytale creatures break into the song “Story of My Life,” which tells the not-so-ideal life of fairy tale creatures. Pinocchio, portrayed by Robbie Hendrix, sings about life as a wooden puppet and his desire to become a real boy.
Hendrix is not new to theater or Patriot Players. “I’ve been working with them since last fall,” he said. He has appeared in the group’s productions of “Purlie — The Musical” and “Ain’t Misbehavin.”
Hendrix has taken on an additional role as stage manager for “Shrek.” “It’s hard being stage manager and controlling 30 people and being in the show, and playing five different people,” he said. In addition to Pinocchio, Hendrix plays Tapping Mouse, Happy Person, a villager and one of Dragon’s controllers.
As stage manager, Hendrix, along with Brandi Collins, carved many of the props for the show out of large pieces of foam and painted them.
According to director Devin Pendleton, “Shrek” is more than just good family entertainment — the show sends a feel-good message to the audience.
“Truly what I would love for the community to realize about the show is the message: You don’t have to be perfect. You can get out there and do your thing. Let your freak flag fly,” Pendleton said.
In his song, Pinocchio encourages the other fairy tale creatures to “let (their) freak flag fly” during the show. He accepts that he is a wooden puppet and not a real boy and encourages others to accept and love themselves.
“Shrek: The Musical” provides a new set of challenges to the Patriot Players.
“This is a huge show and a huge undertaking,” Hendrix said.
Erica Becker, who also performed in “Purlie” and “Ain’t Misbehavin,” is the voice of Dragon and a clown in “Shrek.” Becker said “Shrek” has been different from the other shows.
“This set has so many pieces and everything is heavy, so a lot of the cast is moving the sets,” she said. Due to the size of the set, some of the pieces were not used. The set will be sent to South Carolina after the performance of “Shrek.”
“This is a traveling set,” explained Becker.
The sets for earlier shows were made by local high school drama students. “This set was actually rented,” said Becker. According to a previous Bulletin article, Chinchilla Theatrical Stage and Sound delivered the set from Georgia.
The cast of “Shrek” is larger and younger than in previous shows. “It’s more family-oriented, but still fun all the way around,” she added.
“Hands down, this is the largest show Martinsville and Henry County has ever had. We just need an audience,” said Pendleton.
“Shrek: The Musical” opened Thursday night and will run at 7 tonight and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday and again at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 5, through Saturday, June 7. There also will be a 2 p.m. matinee June 8.
Tickets cost $15 and are on sale at the PHCC Switchboard in West Hall on campus and at the Artisan Center in uptown Martinsville, 54 W. Church St. Call 638-8777 for more information.