In the space of moments, Holly Ann Butler transforms from blind mouse to Queen Lillian (and at another point to the Wicked Witch) - all part of her duties in the national tour of Shrek the Musical, being brought to Houston in October by Gexa Energy/Broadway Across America.
Butler accomplishes her first change in two and a half minutes, backstage, aided by a small army of dressers. "The entire ensemble changes all at the same time, the first time. They go from villagers to fairy tale creatures in about a minute."
It took three or four New York auditions before Butler was told she'd made it into the national tour, now at its first stop in Chicago. There was six weeks of practice in New York followed by two weeks of technical walk-throughs in Chicago.
This won't be the first time Butler, who grew up in Florida, has made it to Houston. In fact, it was while playing Rumpleteazer in Cats for Theatre Under the Stars that she first earned her equity card. "I'm very grateful to Houston and everyone involved," she says.
Butler is also the understudy for Princess Fiona. She's gotten to go on stage in Chicago as Fiona and it was during one of these performances that her one glitch occurred. "For Fiona's first entrance, she tears apart these fairy tale books. I'd been told to throw them behind me onto the turntable so they could be picked up after the scenery closed. Which I did. They made it onto the turntable. But because the turntable rotates, one of the books got stuck under a piece of scenery and they had to rush out there and grab it really fast before the set collapsed."
"You just kind of go with it because it's live theater and something is going to go wrong."
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Most of the costumes are very elaborate in Shrek, she said. Her witch's hat is actually a foot-high red wig that comes to a point at the top and has a cat and a broom on it.
It took her a while to get used to it, but now, she says, she can dance her way across the floor without even thinking about it.
Performances of Shrek: the Musical will run October 19-31 at the Hobby Center. For ticket information go to www.broadwayacrossamerica.com/Houston or call 800-982-2787.