What I learned as Shrek

I had a wonderful opportunity this month to be another person in Shrek the Musical. My daughters convinced me to try out (“Dad, you’d be the PERFECT Shrek”), and I was very glad I took their advice. I got to work with a wonderful cast and crew of some of the most talented people i’ve ever known.

SOME of the Moses Lake cast of Shrek the Musical

the Moses Lake cast of Shrek the Musical

As I focused on getting to know Shrek’s story, and as we all worked to put the show together, I learned a few things I’d like to share. Some were learned from the script, and some from the show.

People get in the way. That’s okay – reminder that you’re not doing this by yourself.

  • Trying to get from one point to another backstage is not easy in a working show. There are LOTS of people in our cast, and I had to get around and through groups of people. I reminded myself that these wonderful people weren’t in my way – they are a PART of my journey, and it’s not something I could do by myself. I’m glad of their presence backstage, on stage, and in my life.

Putting up walls doesn’t really help.

  • Shrek talks about his desire to Build A Wall. But putting up walls to protect yourself also leads to isolation. He comes to the realization that he needs to tear down his wall, and build a spot for someone else to join him. He gained a good bit of wisdom at the end; he’s a good role model for me.

Sometimes, you have to WORK to hear even the simplest of things.

  • Part of the costume for Shrek is a large foam rubber cowl that cut off 90% of my hearing. I found it very difficult to hear cues, musical phrases, and certain pitches were completely lost. I couldn’t just assume that I’d hear what I needed to hear; I had to **really** work to listen. Hopefully, this trait will stay with me long after the show is over – to actively work to listen to the world around me.

Don’t be afraid to ask others for help.

  • An annoyance of the Shrek costume was that the neck of the cowl kept popping out of the back of my costume. It became a running event to have people “fix my back”. Right before I’d go on, I’d recruit whomever was standing around to make sure my costume was in place. Some of the cast and crew got so good at it that they’d fix me before I knew I needed it. We depend on so many people to help us in so many ways; it’s good to recognize it, and celebrate it.

Sometimes it takes an Ass to remind us that we need each other

  • Donkey (played so well by Tucker Merchant in our production) is the catalyst of Shrek’s story. He realizes before anyone else that Fiona and Shrek are right for each other. He not only helps Fiona see Shrek’s value, but teaches Shrek the importance of authentic forgiveness and friendship. Donkey MAKES Shrek a better person, and enables him to love Fiona. I am so thankful for all the people in my life who have filled this role for me, and enabled me to be a better person, to help me tear down the walls brick by brick that were built over time.

If you prepare for upcoming changes, you can adapt pretty quickly.

  • At the end of the show, Fiona magically morphs from human to ogre. In the animated story, this is just par for the course, but in REAL LIFE, in REAL TIME, it’s amazing to watch a crew of people transform our beautiful Fiona (played by the beautiful Amy O’Donnell) into a beautiful ogre – complete with green skin and bulbous nose. AND it’s all done in about 90 seconds. This transformation took a LOT of planning, and many hands to make it possible. When we *know* that a change must be made, when we plan for it and enlist friends to help us make it happen, we can adapt to a new situation pretty well. It just takes a little magic, that’s all.

Love changes you – but not always in the way you expect.

  • Fiona, after her transformation from True Love’s Kiss… stays as an ogre. She is dismayed, because she thought she needed to be a certain way to be considered beautiful. Shrek tells her the truth: she is beautiful as she is. I believe that loves transforms us; not instantly or magically, of course, but the transformation is real, nonetheless. I have been transformed by the love I’ve encountered: the love of my wife, learning to love and be loved by my children, and realizing God’s love for me is far deeper than I can comprehend.

Learning these lessons with this cast and crew has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. While my skin won’t miss the green makeup, my heart will miss the ongoing interaction with the “screwy but delighted crazy stew” that was the cast of Basin Community Theatre’s production of Shrek the Musical. I love you all. Let your Freak Flag Fly!

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1 Response to “What I learned as Shrek”


  1. 1 'Nita March 16, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Ed, you make every situation a better one in which to be!


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