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May 8, 2014

'Shrek' to bring musical theater to Oneonta

The Orpheus Theatre’s production of “Shrek” is bringing a big cast and big local talent to the stage this Mother’s Day weekend.

“The first word that comes to mind is magic,” said Benjamin Burke, the show’s director. “Even the people with the smallest parts are putting so much into it.”

Based off the Academy Award winning animated movie of the same name, “Shrek” is a Broadway musical that tells the story of Shrek, an ogre who, after finding his swamp has been occupied by fairy-tale creatures displaced by the ego-maniacal Lord Farquaad, agrees to rescue Princess Fiona in order to get his home back. Shrek, however, gets more than he bargained for.

Both the movie and the musical are loosely based off the picture book “Shrek!” by William Steig.

“Shrek,” will be the last show offered by the Orpheus Theatre in its 30th anniversary season. Burke said that, traditionally, Orpheus does a show that is more mature for its fall show, and a very family oriented show around the Christmas season. For the spring show, however, the company likes to put on recent Broadway hits.

Burke said that one of the reasons that “Shrek” was selected was that, in addition to being a recent show, its cast of characters lined up well with their talent pool. In particular, Tom Pondolfino, a regular actor in the Orpheus Theatre’s shows, sprang to mind for the role of Shrek.

“Nobody even had to think about it,” said Burke, describing Pondolfino as the “cream of the crop” of the company’s male acting pool. “We wanted to showcase his talent.”

When asked about being selected for the role, Pondolfino had a more humorous take on it.

“Hey, uh, Tom, we need a big, fat, green, farting belching ogre,” said Pondolfino. “We can’t even think of anybody else.”

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