Shrek hits the Collins stage March 6

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Lipscomb University and Circle Players will present “Shrek: The Musical,” based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture and the book by William Steig, March 6-15 in Lipscomb’s Collins Alumni Auditorium.

“Shrek” brings the story of the familiar ogre to life on stage. In a faraway kingdom turned upside down, an unseemly ogre – not a prince – shows up to rescue a feisty princess. Throw in a donkey that won't shut up, a bad guy with a short temper, a cookie with an attitude and over a dozen fairy tale misfits and get the kind of mess that calls for a real hero. Luckily, there's one on hand... and his name is Shrek. Full of new songs, dancing and scenery, “Shrek: The Musical” is part romance, part twister fairy tale.

Lipscomb and Circle’s production of “Shrek” features a combination of student and community actors in a cast of 45. The title role is played by Antonio Nappo, who has previously appeared in “Macbeth,” at the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, “City of Light,” at Boiler Room Theater and “One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest” and “Titanic” by Circle Players.

The production is directed by Robyn Berg, an adjunct acting professor at Lipscomb who has previously directed the university’s productions of “Death of a Salesman,” “The Servant of Two Masters” and “Leading Ladies.” She has also acted locally in the Nashville Shakespeare Festival production of “Julius Caesar” and multiple productions with Blackbird Theatre, Actor's Bridge Ensemble and more.

The Lipscomb Department of Theatre and Circle Players, Nashville’s oldest community theater, are tapping into various campus and community resources to create this large-scale whimsical production, which requires a Pinocchio nose that grows right before the audience’s eyes; a villain of short stature, requiring actor Jonah Jackson to spend the whole show on his knees; six different dresses for Princess Fiona; and loads of green makeup for ogre Shrek.

“It’s as if we’ve ripped a page out of Pinocchio, the Three Bears, Alice in Wonderland and more and tossed those pages onto the stage of Collins Auditorium to see what happens when those worlds collide,” said Berg. “This idea drove our conceptual approach.”

“Shrek” is not just full of magical entertainment, the plot is also peppered with messages of friendship, self-confidence, acceptance and determination portrayed by actors who are taking the characters to new depths.

“He (Shrek) is an anti-hero looking for acceptance – something he didn't know he needed until he had it then lost it,” says Nappo of playing the title character. “For all his bluster and bravado Shrek is very insecure, and I'm trying to color my interpretation of this character with that in mind.”

The production will be shown in special matinees for school groups on March 7 and 14.

“The show is also about acceptance -- no matter what you look (or smell) like,” said Berg. “This idea is so very important to me, and I only hope that through the vehicle of musical theater we share that message with our audience members, both children and adults.”

Shrek features music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire. Cast members include Tonya Pewitt and Annelise Kitching as Princess Fiona and Justin Boyd as Donkey. Music Director is Randy Craft.  Choreography is by Kari Smith, with Lipscomb junior Austin Hunt as her assistant. Costume designer is Amanda McGee.

Circle Players has worked with Lipscomb on previous joint productions including the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Rabbit Hole,” also by Abaire.

“Shrek” will show on March 6-8 and 13-15 at 7:30 p.m. and on March 9 at 3:30 p.m. Special school matinees will show on March 7 and 14 at 9:30 a.m. Tickets are $15. The play is suitable for all audiences. Contact the Lipscomb Box Office at 615.966.7077 for tickets.