"Shrek the Musical" dances onto Broadway

NEW YORK (AP) - January 17, 2008 A stage version of the popular DreamWorks Animation SKG feature will begin preview performances in November - with casting, theater and opening date to be announced.

The show, which has book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori, will play an out-of-town tryout at Seattle's Fifth Avenue Theatre Aug. 14-Sept. 21.

"It's the plot of the first `Shrek' movie," said Jason Moore, who will direct the production. The first "Shrek" film was released in 2001, followed by "Shrek 2" in 2004 and "Shrek the Third" last year.

"But because we are going deeper into the emotional lives and back stories of the characters, we reveal things about them that none of the movies revealed," he added.

Moore, who directed the hit musical "Avenue Q," has been involved with "Shrek the Musical" for nearly three years. "We are building something from the beginning," the director said. "I like to be part of the development process. To have a wide-open canvas with good raw materials is a rare and luxurious opportunity."

He said the music by Tesori, who wrote melodies for such diverse shows as "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and "Caroline, or Change," has not only an epic orchestral feel but "some good rock and R&B. Jeanine's music has real guts to it."

Lindsay-Abaire wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama "Rabbit Hole" as well as such comedies as "Fuddy Meers" and "Kimberly Akimbo."

"David is a word-puzzle man," Moore said. "So much about lyric writing is creating a puzzle and telling a story, which David already does brilliantly in his playwriting.

"As director, it's great for me because the tone in the book scenes and the tone in the lyrics are consistent - which often is something you are battling if you have two different people doing those jobs. You want to feel like that transition is seamless."

As for casting the lead role of Shrek, Moore said it's difficult because not only do you need a fine singer but someone who can make people laugh and feel for them.

"The character is tricky because he is an outsider and doesn't reveal himself to the world very easily," Moore explained. "He has purposely put himself away. So it requires an actor with a lot of nuance to get those kind of levels across."

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