There's a not inconsiderable chance that the Shrek: the Musical that's gone on tour and is coming to Houston's Hobby Center is actually better than the Broadway version.
On Broadway, reviews for Shrek were mixed. Some critics liked it immensely, others thought it started slow and just didn't hang together exactly right. But after weeks of intense practice with the national tour group and some re-configuring, the troupe that started out in Chicago has been getting consistently better reviews.
So either the show is better or Chicago critics are wussies.
Tyrone Davis Jr. is a utility actor in the musical--he plays Bricks (the smart one of the three little pigs), a guard, a dancing rat and a dragon puppeteer. He's also the understudy for Donkey and says this is the biggest show he's ever done.
"Sometimes when you do tours they kind of just recycle what had been done on Broadway," he told Art Attack. "But for this show everyone was there, the composer, the writer the whole creative team, the choreographer; they were all there workshopping everything, making sure the story got stronger."
A dragon song was added, there were cuts made elsewhere and the cast got a new dragon, this time courtesy of Michael Curry, the designer who did The Lion King on Broadway.
"It's a big old giant dragon. They say this has been the best dragon since the beginning of the show," Davis said. "It's about 60 to 80 pounds and there's four of us on the dragon at one time.
"I'm kind of the butt of the dragon."
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He was also the butt of some laughter two weeks ago in Chicago.
"There's a lot of fog in the show. They use dry ice. Sometimes that makes the floor incredibly slippery, almost like ice. Here I am, at the top of the show, first number. I run on stage and just completely fall flat on my face. It wasn't like a slide. Everyone saw it. You just have to brush it off and laugh at yourself."
Davis insists Shrek is not just a kids' show. "It came from a cartoon but it's definitely a story for everyone. It's a story about friendship. There's a song in the show about letting your freak flag wave, and I think that's a message for all."
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.