SARASOTA - Dingbat Theatre Project has announced casting and production team for its upcoming production of Shrek the Musical with book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire writer of Rabbit Hole and music by Jeanine Tesori composer of Fun Home and Caroline, or Change. The musical is based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture Shrek which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The film is in turn based on the children's book by William Steig.
The musical is being reimagined by Dingbat Theatre Project with a cast of eight, brand new scenic and costume designs, and new staging reminiscent of Brechtian and Theatre of the Absurd storytelling techniques. Shrek will be directed by Luke Manual McFatrich and choreographed by Brian F. Finnerty, who are also in the cast. Michelle Kasanofsky is the music director and band leader for the performances. Matt Neier is the Lighting Designer, and David Walker is the costume designer.
The production will open on May 7, 2021 and will play outdoors in the courtyard at The Bazaar on Apricot and Lime at 821 Apricot Avenue in Sarasota through May 15, 2021. Food will be available before the performances from Hamlet's Eatery food truck located in the courtyard. Tickets are available at www.dingbattheatre.org. There is an ongoing gofundme campaign to subsidize the costs of the production at https://gofund.me/d1dd5fc7.
The cast is filled with community favorites led by Cory Woomert as Shrek and Alyssa Goudy as Princess Fiona. Donkey is being played by Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe alum Derric Gobourne Jr. and the vertically challenged Lord Farquaad will be portrayed by Brian F. Finnerty who also serves as choreographer for the production. Rounding out the cast are Amanda Heisey as Pinocchio, Noelia Altamirano as Mama Bear, Jamie Molina as Gingy, and Luke Manual McFatrich as the Dragon. All cast members play various other roles in the production like a variety of fairy tale creatures, Duloc Dancers, Knights, etc. Special appearances will be made by Michelle Kasanofsky as the Fairy Godmother and Judah Woomert as Farquaad's Guard and guitarist.
Shrek the Musical tells the story of a unlikely hero who finds himself on a life-changing journey alongside a wisecracking Donkey and a feisty princess who resists her rescue. Throw in a short-tempered bad guy, a cookie with an attitude, and over a dozen other fairy tale misfits, and you've got the kind of mess that calls for a real hero. Luckily, there's one on hand... and his name is Shrek.
This is Dingbat Theatre Project's second onstage venture, following December 2020's sold out run of Brian and Luke's Amazing Terrific Jaw-Dropping Fantastical Specatular Tremendous Live Holiday Jamboree, conceived and performed by Brian F. Finnerty, Luke Manual McFatrich, and Michelle Kasanofsky.
McFatrich is a staff member at Venice Theatre where he is an instructor, development staff member, and director of teen improv programming. He was the founder of The Basket Cases Theatre Company in Starkville, Mississippi, where he wrote, co-wrote, or directed original productions of The Elves and the Shoemaker, The True Adventures of the Ugly Duckling, and Frost. He was also the solo performer in a production of The Call of the Wild, which he adapted from the Jack London novel. While in the Sarasota area, he has appeared onstage in Head Over Heels and Hello, Dolly! at The Players Centre and Peter and the Starcatcher and Born Yesterday at Venice Theatre, among others.
"We are approaching Shrek as if it has never been performed before. The choice to have only eight performers is a necessary one due to the pandemic, however it has opened the doors for us to tell this story in a more meaningful way," says McFatrich. "Rather than the typical exercise in pageantry, this approach makes Shrek the Musical a human story about overcoming how society views the atypical, celebrating yourself and others for who you and they are, coping with loneliness, and finding family where you least expect to. And fart jokes, there's also fart jokes, so that's fun. This show is a great opportunity for Sarasota audiences to see something completely new, unexpected, and off-the-wall exciting with an insanely multi-talented cast who play dozens of roles. It's really special and fun for the whole family."
Finnerty is the social media manager and a studio instructor at The Players Studio and The Players Centre for Performing Arts, where he directed and choreographed the critically-acclaimed productions of SHOUT! The Mod Musical, Hello, Dolly! (with co-direction from Amanda Heisey), and the area premier of Head Over Heels. Also a prolific performer in the area, he has appeared in Reefer Madness produced by Random Acts at The Starlite Room, Bubbling Brown Sugar at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, Singin' in the Rain at The Players Centre, and 42nd Street and The Rocky Horror Show at Venice Theatre. Original works include Vaudeville's Dead and Christmas Belles of '45: An offensive radio play with Plump Sister Productions.
"Shrek the Musical centers itself around the relatable human experiences of prejudice, fighting insecurities and depression, finally embracing ones true self, and the search for love and acceptance. And of course, the musical delivers the witty sarcastic sass portrayed in the Dreamworks film. The story is strong, it doesn't need caricatured costumes and a cast of 30+ actors to convey what's important. There's a different appreciation that comes with viewing such a well-know fairy-tale parody in a way that actually mirrors our realities." says Finnerty. "Through this process, brilliantly envisioned by Luke, I've discovered that it's even more satisfying to grasp the hilarious story of Shrek with a cast of 8 versatile performers, swapping in and out of costume pieces, accents, intentions, and physicality. It causes everyone involved (cast, production team, and audience) to once again embrace the imagination and creativity behind the "playing pretend" we did as children. A plunger is a sword, a scooter is a horse, sock puppets are a villain's entourage. It's just so much fun. It's fresh and something this area hasn't seen before."
Dingbat Theatre Project's production of Shrek the Musical is made possible through the collaboration with The Players Centre for Performing Arts, The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime, and Hamlet's Eatery.