Shrek: the Musical to perform at BCT

Shrek, Donkey and Fiona will come to you live from the swamp to Bloomington during the holiday season.

The Cardinal Stage Company will bring “Shrek: the Musical,” its ninth annual holiday show, to life at 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Dec. 19 to Jan. 3 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.

Director Randy White said all of Cardinal’s holiday shows are big and family-oriented.

“It’s become a kind of Bloomington tradition,” he said.

White said the target audience of the show is children ages five to nine, but adults will enjoy the show, too.

“I think for younger audiences, this is a good show,” John Gurdian, who plays Shrek, said.

Shrek is a very rounded character, Gurdian said.

He said he laughed when he first watched the movie in high school, and having seen it again recently, he found entirely new jokes that he had missed before.

The story teaches not to judge a book by its cover and that insecurities may not really be all that limited, he said.

He said he had to do a lot of research to learn about his character and be able to bring Shrek to life in a unique way.

“You get to play around a lot,” he said.

Gurdian said the cast didn’t start working on the performance stage until Tuesday, but once the show moves to that stage, all the pieces will come together.

Gurdian said White has a very solid image of the show, which can be seen in its execution.

Because of some of the large set pieces, it can be difficult to perform a show like this at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, White said.

The theater’s backstage is relatively small, making it difficult to hide larger-than-life set pieces, he said.

“It’s got a lot of, sort of, theatrical challenges,” he said.

Despite the challenges, White said it is a delight to work on this show.

“It’s a great show to perform in because it has a lot of dance,” he said.

White said there are four or five huge dance numbers, something that not many contemporary musicals have. It has music challenging enough to require a lot of practice, but not so dull that it becomes annoying to listen to at rehearsal.

“It also moves like a freight train,” White said of the show.

Characters have to be made larger than life, and familiar fairy tale characters have to be presented with a twist while still being relatable to the audience, he said.

Along with the characters onstage, White said the cast and crew offstage have great chemistry.

“It’s a good mix of people,” he said.

Gurdian said he has both company rehearsals and smaller practices with one or two characters.

People might not expect how sophisticated “Shrek: the Musical” can be, he said. White said this kind of show really can benefit the whole family.

“Introducing kids to theater is everything,” he said.

This year, Cardinal will also be bringing theater to Assembly Hall, White said.

He said “Shrek: the Musical” will get to perform at the Dec. 22 basketball game at halftime.

Though there are difficulties in preparing a stage production for being on camera, White said he is looking forward to the event and the partnership with IU Athletics.

“And heck, it’s going to be fun,” he said.

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