Shrek is finally here, wading through the misty (or should I say smokey) swamps of Sydney and into the Lyric theatre. The company is currently in full swing with previews, until their opening on the 5th Jan. Even so, they all kindly came in to the theatre a few hours early to give the press an idea of what the final picture looks like.
And that picture is green. From the dim green light that bathes the curtain before it raises, to the thick paint that coats Shrek’s (Ben Mingay) head, to the “red” carpet on opening night that has been promised to be that ogreish hue.
I’m exaggerating, not everything is green, in fact the colour palette is remarkably diverse, and it needs to be. The ensemble, unlike most shows, is less a chorus and more a cacophony of different characters, each requiring its own unique costume design and colour palette; from the three little pigs resplendent in pink, to the orange bodice of the Wicked Witch, to the blue ball gown of the Sugar Plum Fairy. And I have to say the ensemble work is wonderful; each character bringing their little taste to the forefront, before blending back into a clean and synchronised bunch.
That’s not to say that the principal cast were not great. They unfortunately had little to show themselves off in this media call, with Todd McKenney and Marcia Hines not performing at all. But a greater burden hangs on their shoulders, in particular Ben Mingay as… well, the title role. He, Lucy Durack and Nat Jobe performed the final number of the show “This Is Our Story” which is pretty much a stand and sing, but with the fact that the production is in previews with opening just around the corner, conserving energy is paramount.
Their job started as the music stopped with all the press swarming the stage for interviews (both written and videoed) and photos. I’ve mentioned before the odd things that journalists like to get performers to do in these calls, and today was no different; with all five leads on stage variably sitting on plastic stools, lying on the floor, leaning on the wings, pretending to read magazines, and conducting interviews in character, it was a circus of never ending movement, colour and sound.
But this is a means to an end. With stiff competition from lots of quality entertainment in Sydney, all publicity is good publicity. Chookas guys.