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"Shrek the Musical" runs this weekend at the Milwaukee Theatre.

"Shrek The Musical" comes to Milwaukee

"Shrek the Musical" is a musical, of course, and it's based on the 2001 DreamWorks film as well as the William Steig book – published in 1990 – of the same name.

"Shrek the Musical" comes to the Milwaukee Theatre from Thursday, April 5 through Sunday, April 8.

"Shrek the Musical" follows the basic story line of the first Shrek film, with the addition of musical numbers that were created specifically for the stage adaptation.

"Because of this, the show feels very familiar, but new at the same time," says director Stephen Sposito.

Sposito has been the tour director for "Shrek the Musical" for five years. He was the assistant director when the musical was on Broadway. He is the associate director of "How To Succeed In Business," which is currently on Broadway.

The Broadway production of the musical opened in December 2008 and closed in January 2010. A national tour started later in 2010, and in 2011, the show was scaled down and revamped to appeal to British audiences. The current tour started up in September 2011 and features a non-equity cast.

Sposito believes that the Shrek character resonates with children for many reasons. Shrek, he says, is an outsider searching for his place in the world, something that is part of the human condition.

"Finding out where you fit and who you truly are – not who people say you are – is a journey we all go on at some point," he says.

But even more than provocative, the show, according to Sposito, is just plain funny. "Shrek's funny, crude, not perfect. Kids identify with this," he says.

The show is created to appeal to adults, too. He says grown ups will walk away with messages about not judging others. And he thinks adults, like kids, will find the show humorous.

Shrek the film, as well as the musical, tells the story of an intimidating ogre who finds love with the beautiful and feisty Princess Fiona. For the films, Mike Myers voiced the Shrek character and Cameron Diaz gave voice to Fiona.

"Shrek" has three sequels including "Shrek 2," "Shrek the Third" and "Shrek Forever After." There have been two holiday specials, "Shrek the Halls" and "Scared Shrekless," as well as a spin-off called "Puss In Boots."

Sposito says Shrek becomes increasingly relevant as time goes on because bullying has gotten worse and worse. Shrek features an anti-bullying message that suggests we celebrate what makes us different and special, rather than how we are different.

"It's rare that something with such a strong message can also be so funny, I think," he says. "It's just a great night of entertainment."

The make-up and costumes for the musical are one of its strengths. Overall, the show features more than 200 different looks and 76 different wigs. Lead actor Lukas Poost, who plays Shrek, requires two hours of transformation – including being packed in ice – before each performance!

Poost wears a two-piece, custom-made mask that takes about 45 minutes to put on and another 30-45 minutes to remove. The mask is in two parts, one of which requires a new nose, cheeks and chin to be created from a "jelly-like texture" before every single show.

"It's very important to us that Shrek looks like Shrek," says Sposito.

This leg of the tour is scheduled for another month. Another version of the tour has already been booked for another year. After that, it's up in the air if the show will go on.

"We evaluate after every tour and decide whether or not to move forward. I've been very lucky. It's been a lot of fun," says Sposito.

Shrek The Musical runs Thursday, April 5 at 7 p.m.; Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Tickets range from $33-$75 with a $23 ticket available for opening night on Thursday and for seniors 62 and older, military and kids ages 4-12.


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