Shrek The Musical has flown its freak flag!
The crazy and colourful bunch are currently on show at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre, and are moving through to Melbourne and Perth over the next few months. Based on the well-loved Dreamworks animated film, Shrek The Musical follows a pair of unlikely friends on a crazy quest to save a princess.
One of the pair is Donkey, played by Nat Jobe. A graduate of both WAAPA and NIDA, Nat has been featured in a plethora of shows across Australia. Some credits include Aladdin (u/s Jafar and Sultan), The Lion King (u/s Banzai), West Side Story (Pepe), You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown (Schroeder) and Into The Woods (the Baker) amongst many others. He is also heavily involved in Children’s theatre, having performed in shows such as Horrible Harriet and The Gruffalo.
How has working on Shrek been?
It’s been amazing. It’s been the most incredible experience. Like a whirlwind of joy and excitement, and everyone’s so on cloud nine. It’s the most exciting, wonderful group of people, so it’s very easy to come to work every day.
You’ve actually played Donkey before – what are you doing differently this time around?
Yeah, I played the role about 2 years ago with Packemin Productions down at the Parramatta Riverside Theatres. So this is my chance to revisit the role, find some new stuff in it, and be part of this huge commercial production. I think it’s always going to be different with different actors. Part of any character is the relationships formed with other characters and actors on stage, so that’s been my Donkey with Lucy and Ben’s Fiona and Shrek. I think the three of us have this beautiful chemistry on stage that makes it so much fun every night. But also, I think this time I’ve really focused more on the heart of donkey. it’s obviously know as a very funny, silly, sometimes even annoying character. But at the end of the day, he’s the character with so much heart. he drives the heart of the show. h’es the character that really encourages the others to look within and be more open, loving and accepting. So that’s been my primary focus this time, just really finding the heart and soul of the character, which in turn, is the heart and soul of the show.
And you get to work closely with the Dragon puppet?
I do, really closely. Like terribly closely! I almost can’t put into words how exciting it is. I don’t know if it will ever change. I think in every single show, when I turn around and see that dragon, my heart races. Because she’s enormous, and when your’e standing right in front of her she looks even more enormous. There are moments where she’s chasing me around the stage and I’ll look back over my shoulder and there are just these jaws coming at me and I feel like I’m in Jurassic Park with a huge dinosaur chasing me. The first time we did that in the studio I was genuinely freaking out. So it’s quite remarkable, and the four puppeteers are doing the most amazing job. I think people will watch it and be so blown away by the spectacle of it.
‘Spectacle’ seems like a really good descriptor for the whole show!
I think so. I think because it’s based on an animated film there has to be a level of spectacle, there’s this expectation that it’s going to take you to a magical place. I think what’s special about this, because there are a lot of big shows out there that are a spectacle, is that it is spectacular, it is the animation come to life, but it’s also the most beautiful story. In Shrek The Musical they focus on messages of acceptance, embracing love and individuality, they focus on these more than they do in the film, and I think that’s what’s so powerful about it. It’s a silly, funny piece, with huge musical theatre devices, but it’s also a really important story with an important message.
What’s something not many people would think when you mention the show?
The humour isn’t just for kids. Donkey really appeals to the children because he has such a childlike naivete about him. But even for the parents who come to the show… Todd’s character, Lord Farquaad, is just written for the adults. There’s so much more in the musical than the movie, you learn so much about his character and all of his history, and that’s all for adults.
You have worked both in mainstream and children’s theatre – how does it feel to be combining both with Shrek?
I just feel so lucky to be able to do something that does blur those worlds so much. I love commercial musical theatre, I love a spectacle, and I have since I was a kid. I’ve loved the magic of commercial theatre and the fact these giant set pieces and costumes can take you to another world. But I’ve always loved children’s theatre as well, because as an actor I think there’s just as much magic in a smaller, perhaps independent, production. The love for the arts that we can introduce to children in children’s theatre is just such an honour as an actor, and I think in this show it does put the two together. It has children’s theatre elements, pantomime elements, but has the big commercial feel and incredible music that covers every musical genre. It kind of ticks all the boxes, I think. I can’t imagine there is anyone who can walk out of the theatre and not think “oh, I really loved that.”
Why should people come and see Shrek The Musical?
To miss this show would be a really regrettable thing to happen. Obviously I’m part of the show, but you can feel there is something special. At the end of the day, audiences leave the theatre so happy and on such a high. At this time in the world, and in this country, with everything the way that it is, it’s a lovely thing to be able to escape it all for two hours. There’s something about this show that provides people with hope. And for that reason alone, it’s worth coming to see it. Not to mention the amazing music, hilarious content, all of the fart gags… it’s all worth it. But the biggest thing is that chance to escape and leave the theatre feeling hopeful at the end of the day.
Shrek The Musical is currently playing in Sydney until Feb 9, and then moves to Melbourne and Brisbane.
For tickets and more information, please visit shrekthemusical.com.au