Lutcher goes green
If you only have 60 seconds to go green, you need a lot of help from your friends. Just ask Liz Shivener.
Shivener knows what it takes to be transformed from a fair-skinned, radiant princess to a startling troll-ish green, the kind that only the world’s favorite ogre, Shrek, can love — and she does it in just under a minute.
Shivener is feisty Fiona in “Shrek,” The Musical coming to Lutcher Theater, November 6 for two performances, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. In an telephone interview, Shivener talked about the actual physical difficulties of the “greening” process, the meaning of going green and the romantic cartoon comedy’s transition from cinema to stage.
“The process of becoming green is not easy,” said Shivener, who only a year ago was starring as the famed Belle in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” “A team of seven are there to strip me down and throw on makeup to complete the greening process right off stage.”
Although done with haste, Fiona’s new hue is not just skin deep. It represents what Fiona recognizes as contradictory, if not bi-polar behavior.
“There are lyrics to one song where Fiona sings about being bipolar, about being this princess, (and how it’s) a façade,” said Shivener. “She recognizes that’s not really what she is, and you see this struggle between her princess self and her ogre self, or the person she is expected to be and what’s inside, what she really is.”
Personally, Shivener’s year has been contradictory, in a way, as she has transformed from the lavish, fairy princess, Belle, who little girls idealize, to the spunkier, pragmatic princess, Fiona.
“It’s been great and fun to kind of be poking fun at what I just did for the last year and a half,” said Shivener. “There are similar qualities between Belle and Fiona. but Fiona is more up to speed with today’s kids.”
Kids love “Shrek,” but so do adults. The musical performance with book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire (“Rabbit Hole,” “Good People”), music by Olivier Award-winner Jeanine Tesori (“Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Caroline, or Change”) and directed by Stephen Sposito, who recently served as associated director of the current Broadway revival of “How To Succeed In Business” starring Daniel Radcliff that opened on Broadway in 2009 and has been pleasing audiences of all ages since.“Families come and take children and assume it’s for children and not for them,” said Shivener. “It is a crowd pleaser; it pleases everyone because like the movie, the comedy was kind of edgy. Everyone will leave happy.”
Recall the endearing story. Swamp-dwelling Shrek, an ogre of the burping and tooting kind, is challenged to reclaim the deed to his land by saving a captured princess. Along the road, he befriends a wisecracking donkey, meets misfit storybook characters, defeats a dragon and falls in love.
Shivener actually dances with the Pied Piper in one scene and says the familiar storybook characters that have minimal roles in the movie play bigger parts in the stage production.
“There are 16 actors that dazzle the stage portraying characters like Pinocchio, the Three Bears, the Three Little Pigs, the Big Bad Wolf, Peter Pan, and of course, the outspoken Gingerbread Man,” said Shivener. “The ensemble is really featured; they are more than just chorus members taking up space, so you spend a lot of time with these secondary characters.”
After original merry musical scores, comedic chaos, laughter, self-discovery and lively dancing, all the characters live happily ever after, even the misfits.Tickets are available for “Shrek,” The Musical by calling Lutcher Theater at (409) 886-5535 or going online to www.lutcher.org, where you can also find upcoming performances including “South Pacific,” “In The Heights,” Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Moulin Rouge” – The Ballet, “My Fair Lady,” Blue Man Group, “Doubt,” The All New Original Tribute to “The Blues Brothers” as well as a series of children’s performances.