“Shrek the Musical,” the debut production from DreamWorks Theatricals, will have its out-of-town tryout at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater, running Aug. 14-Sept. 21 before beginning previews on Broadway in November.
Based on the story and characters from the William Steig book and on the 2001 DreamWorks Animation feature about the ogre and his traveling companions, the musical was initiated by DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and Sam Mendes, whose Neal Street Prods. will co-produce with the new DreamWorks Theatricals division.
Book and lyrics for the show are by 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning “Rabbit Hole” playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, with music by Jeanine Tesori (“Caroline, or Change”). “Avenue Q” helmer Jason Moore will direct.
Choreography is by newcomer Josh Prince, with Tim Weil (“Rent”) serving as music director. Tim Hatley provides the sets and costumes, Hugh Vanstone the lighting; they last teamed on “Monty Python’s Spamalot.”
Seattle has seen its stock rise as a Broadway tryout town in recent years with engagements of “Hairspray” and “The Wedding Singer” at the 5th Avenue and “Young Frankenstein” at the Paramount.
“We had a number of cities interested,” DreamWorks Theatricals president Bill Damaschke told Daily Variety. “It’s very competitive for dates, but the fact that we’re going in during summer helped us get Seattle, which was always our first choice.
“It’s a big show, so we purposefully chose to have a six-week tryout run, which is quite long,” he added. “That way we have a lot of time to work on the production out of town.”
Key cast playing Shrek, Donkey and Fiona are expected to be announced shortly, as well as additional creative team members. A decision will be made about a New York theater closer to the fall.
The “Shrek” tuner ushers another Hollywood player onto the Broadway scene, following Disney, Warner, New Line and Universal, which have served as above-the-title producers, while other studios such as Fox, MGM and Sony have licensed properties for stage adaptation. Damaschke said it’s too early to say whether DreamWorks will follow with other legit ventures.
“We’re focusing solely on ‘Shrek’ right now,” he said. “But if it’s successful, and we have other adaptations of our film properties or original projects that make sense, we will certainly be looking to do more of them.”