“Shrek the Musical” is headed back on tour in a newly-revised version. Though the tour had been announced previously, it has now been reported that Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire reimagined their Tony Award-nominated score and book for the production. The tour will premiere on Feb. 24, 2024 at the Stanley Theatre in Utica, New York. Danny Mefford takes on dual duties of director and choreographer.
“Shrek” opened on Broadway on Dec. 14, 2008, and several tours have played the road in the years since. However, this will be the first time the musical has offered a revised book and score, which, according to Tesori and Lindsay-Abaire, is a long time coming.
“In those 15 years [since ‘Shrek’ opened on Broadway], we would say to each other, ‘Oh gosh, I wish we had another stab at [it],’” Lindsay-Abaire said in the video below. “We know how to collaborate better now,” he said, a nod to their 2023 Tony win for their score of “Kimberly Akimbo.”
Tesori, who noted having seen several productions of “Shrek” over the years, was struck by one in particular. “In one of the productions, they had a group of kids singing a lot of the material,” Tesori explained. This caused her to realize “we should use our ensemble of people a lot more.”
While the duo said there will be enhanced use of the ensemble, Lindsay-Abaire noted in a statement, “This all-new production is leaner and more focused. It brings out the heart and wonder of the story.”
However, Tesori assured, the message of the show will remain: “In its simplest form, ‘Shrek’ is about staying in a conversation with someone who looks different from you and finding out they’re not who you thought they are.”
“Our production is trying to spark the imagination of children, and it is also trying to bring that childish imagination back to all the adults,” Mefford added. “It’s a celebration of that childlike imagination inside all of us.”
Based on the 2001 DreamWorks animated film of the same name, the musical “Shrek” follows the titular ogre, who, along with his coterie of fairytale friends, attempts to take back his swamp from the evil Lord Farquaad.
Nicholas Hambruch will lead the cast as Shrek. Joining Hambruch will be Cecily Dionne Davis as Fiona, Napthali Yaakov Curry as Donkey, Timmy Lewis as Lord Farquaad, Jamir Brown as Pinocchio and Tori Kocher as Dragon. Rounding out the cast are Kelly Prendergast as Gingy, Hope Schafer as Mama Ogre/Wicked Witch/Blue Bird, Riley Joseph Johnston as Pig/Knight, Katherine Ellen Paladichuk as Teen Fiona/Peter Pan, Sage Jepson as Wolf, Cynthia Ana Rivera as Mama Bear, Carson Zoch as Pig, Demetrio Alomar as Papa Ogre/Papa Bear, Ally Choe as Young Fiona/Ugly Duckling and Leon Ray as Pig. Casey Lamont and John Cardenas will serve as swings. Casting is by Wojcik Casting Team.
The creative team for “Shrek” includes scenic designer Steven Kemp, Tony-winning costume designer Lindo Cho, lighting designer Herrick Goldman, sound designer Ben Selke and puppet designer Camille LaBarre. Cam Upton will provide props. Harrison Roth and Chris Fenwick will serve as music director and music supervisor, respectively. The tour will feature orchestrations by John Clancy, who was Tony-nominated for his orchestrations for the original Broadway production. Tour booking is by the Road Company.
The tour will visit over 40 cities across North America, including Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas, Kansas City, Detroit and Toronto.
The tour is produced by Fifth Estate Entertainment and Round Room Live. Dani Davis will serve as executive producer.
Watch Tesori, Lindsay-Abaire and Mefford’s video discussion of the “Shrek” revisions:
Update: An earlier version of this article included a different name for the casting office. This has been updated.