For the past few years, I’ve been studiously ignoring the fact that
Shrek the Musical is in development and coming to Broadway this November. It keeps getting delayed (I believe it was originally projected to open in 2006), so it’s been fairly easy to dismiss.
And it’s not a given that I’ll hate it if I see it. The movie wasn’t
bad. It won’t be a jukebox musical. And I haven’t heard any stunt-casting
rumors. Yet I find it difficult to get excited about a show starring
an ogre and wisecracking donkey. Odd, that.
But it just got interesting.
Tony Award winner Sutton Foster
has signed on to star as Fiona, the princess who
falls for the ogre. Sutton Foster is one of the best actresses in
musical theater these days. And her story is great. She was an ensemble
player in a number of shows in the late ’90s and early ’00s before she
was plucked from the
chorus of Thoroughly
Modern Millie and cast in the starring role. She won Best
Actress in a Musical for that performance and became one
of the most bankable actresses on Broadway as a result. Her story could
be the stuff of a corny Broadway musical (à
I wasn’t a huge fan of Millie,
but I became a huge fan of Foster. Here she singing and dancing her
heart out to “Forget About the Boy.” (An easy song to embrace.)
She’s the only reason I saw
the obscenely tedious Broadway production of Little Women. Well,
her and the fact that a friend of mine got comps so I didn’t have to
pay for it.
The show was really bad. But
she was much better than the material. (The other thing that kept me
engaged was my fantasy that Maureen McGovern [Marmie] would anachronistically
belt “The Morning After” — the theme from The Poseidon
Adventure — but it didn’t happen. Alas.) And, of course, I hope
that a incipient baby dyke or two crushed out on Foster’s portrayal of Jo.
Foster went on to star in
The Drowsy Chaperone and is currently playing Inga in Young Frankenstein.
But even Sutton Foster cannot
induce me to see another overblown Mel Brooks musical.
Next, a legion of young boys
will likely crush out on her portrayal of Fiona. And legions of young
girls will learn that a princess doesn’t have to be ladylike. And that it’s
OK to love an ogre.