DreamWorks' `Shrek' headed to Broadway

Relative newcomers to bring it to stage

October 15, 2004|By Jesse McKinley | Jesse McKinley,NEW YORK TIMES

NEW YORK - Placing its most successful franchise in the hands of two young theater talents with relatively short track records, the DreamWorks studio announced yesterday that a musical version of the animated film Shrek would come to Broadway under the direction of Jason Moore, best known for Avenue Q, and with a script by the playwright David Lindsay-Abaire (Fuddy Meers).

An exact timetable isn't set, but Sam Mendes, the acclaimed theater and film director who is producing the project with DreamWorks, said Shrek was expected to have an out-of-town tryout in 2006, followed by a move to Broadway.

"I think we needed to find a book writer and a director before I really thought it was a reality," said Mendes, speaking by phone from Los Angeles. "And now I think we've found the perfect people."

No composer has been announced, but he said a decision on that would come soon.

For Moore, Shrek will be the biggest undertaking yet, and one with a few potential pitfalls. Like The Lion King, Disney's blockbuster animated movie and subsequent Broadway show, Shrek will face multiple challenges, including translating the film's fantasy elements, as well as its tone and humor, to a new, often more restrictive medium.

"There's a supreme challenge in bringing an animated world to the stage and making it theatrical," Moore said. "But what's so wonderful about Shrek is that anarchic attitude placed in a fairy-tale world that I think will thrive onstage." It looks to be a very busy year for Moore, with a roster of projects that includes directing a television version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, producing a television series based on Avenue Q and directing that show in Las Vegas, and directing an announced Broadway revival of the play Steel Magnolias.

Lindsay-Abaire will be making his Broadway debut with Shrek after a series of well-received, decidedly quirky, off-Broadway plays.

Released in 2001, Shrek, the skewed storybook tale of a lovesick, world-weary green ogre and his loudmouthed donkey sidekick, grossed more than $478 million worldwide, according to Boxofficemojo.com, which tracks such receipts. Its sequel, released in May, has been even more impressive, raking in nearly $900 million to date.

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