Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

December 13, 2012

Fairytale ogre comes to life in musical 'Shrek'

Niagara Gazette — Most aspiring actors would likely spend countless hours on their knees pleading for a quality role.

One actor coming to town this week, however, will continue doing so even while bringing one of modern animation’s most notorious villains to life on stage.

Christian Marriner will portray Lord Farquaad in the touring production of “Shrek the Musical” that’s staging shows tonight and Friday at the University at Buffalo. As the diminutive dictator of the mythical kingdom of Dulac, Marriner has to spend the bulk of the show on his knees controlling the puppet legs of the runt ruler.

Farquaad and the rest of the characters came to fame in the movie “Shrek,” the 2001 Dreamworks film about a misunderstood ogre and a band of misguided fairy tale creatures that was based on a book of the same name by William Steig. The film spawned three sequels, which grossed a combined $3 billion worldwide.

“Shrek is your friend next door. He’s your average Joe, but he gets put into situations that aren’t normal,” Marriner said when asked what makes the series so popular. “There are relatable situations such as starting to see things half empty and not half full. You can spend time thinking about negative things, but you’re not going to get anywhere.”

The “Shrek” franchise got to Broadway in 2008, where it enjoyed a 441-show run and claimed one Tony Award, for best costume design. Its success led to a national tour in 2010, which included a stop at Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. This tour is now the third U.S. tour for “Shrek” and opened on October in Alaska.

The musical carries over the characters and much of the plot from the first movie, but there’s a lot more added in to help develop the backstory, Marriner said. Farquaad, for example, has a larger role than in the film, with flashbacks showing his childhood and what led to his backlash against fairy tale creatures, whom he banished to Shrek’s swamp outside the kingdom.

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