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Green shoots of hope as Shrek makes its long-awaited debut at QPAC

Culture

After being forced to postpone its opening-night performance on Sunday, Shrek the Musical is set to make its long-awaited debut at QPAC in Brisbane tonight.

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Shrek the Musical had been scheduled to open to a full-capacity Lyric Theatre on Sunday but had to shift its opening night after the snap three-day lockdown announced by Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk last Friday.

It’s been a long trek to the stage for Shrek, which was originally scheduled to open in Brisbane in May last year after finishing its Melbourne run, which was itself cut short due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Shrek had been slated to be the first major musical to open in Australia at 100 per cent capacity on Sunday, but will now open tonight at 50 per cent capacity, with plans to increase capacity to 100 per cent when restrictions are eased on January 23.

Based on the Academy Award-winning animated film, the acclaimed stage adaptation was lauded by critics and was nominated for a slew of awards, winning the Tony for best costume design when it debuted on Broadway in 2009.

The cast is led by Ben Mingay as Shrek, Lucy Durack as Princess Fiona, and Todd McKenney as Lord Farquaad for the multimillion-dollar production, which will also include a special guest appearance by Marcia Hines as The Dragon, and Nat Jobe as Donkey.

Shrek the Musical resident director Luke Joslin said having to cancel Sunday’s opening night performance had been disappointing but the cast and crew remained in good spirits.

“We’d all worked so hard for weeks leading up to last Friday, rehearsals were going really well, everyone was happy to be back in the room and there was a great feeling amongst everybody and then to have that happen on Friday and for there to be no warning … it just so came so out of the blue,” he told InQueensland.

“But the general sentiment around the place is that every show that we get to perform for a live audience is a bonus at this stage, because it’s just so precarious and so mercurial. Everyone’s enormously grateful to be even performing tonight to a 50 per cent house.

QPAC chief executive John Kotzas said the centre, in partnership with  production company, The Gordon Frost Organisation, was delighted to welcome Queensland audiences to the Lyric Theatre for the blockbuster musical.

“It has been a ‘quest’ worthy of Shrek and Donkey to co-ordinate all the complex elements of a major musical in record time and with challenges posed by the global pandemic, including this most recent directive to move performances to 50 per cent audience capacity until January 22,” he said.

“While we are not playing to 100 per cent audience capacity currently, we still feel privileged and proud to be one of the only theatres in the world at the moment that is not only open, but boasting a full and rich program.”

Kotzas said it was currently anticipated that Shrek would return to 100 per cent capacity for its performance on Saturday, January 23.

Queensland Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch said Shrek The Musical would provide an economic boost to the state’s arts and cultural sector, as well as local businesses.

“QPAC has worked quickly to contact and reseat impacted patrons in order to comply with Queensland Government health directives requiring 50 per cent capacity,” she said.

Shrek the Musical not only creates jobs for artists, crew, venue staff and local businesses but also offers audiences the opportunity to once again experience live theatre performances.”

Hines, who has a scene-stealing performance as Dragon in the show, said she was thrilled to be back on stage and looking forward to bringing some much-needed happiness to local audiences.

“We need joy so badly, you know, the world seems like it’s spinning off of its axis and what we do for a living is a wonderful thing – to bring joy, and to bring that bit of escapism,” she said.

“I need it too, in my life, I go and see things just so I can forget about whatever it is I need to forget about so I’m just so pleased that we’re back and Queensland has allowed us to come to QPAC.”

Shrek runs until February 7 at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre.  Visit QPAC’s website for more details.

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