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‘Shrek’ actor enjoys playing ‘weird’ characters

‘Shrek’ actor enjoys playing ‘weird’ characters

Marc Christopher will tell you that if he’s playing the male lead, you’re probably not watching your
‘Shrek’ actor enjoys playing ‘weird’ characters
John Turner, left, Mike Belloti, Marc Christopher and Brittany Leigh Glenn star in "Shrek the Musical," opening this weekend at Home Made Theater.

Marc Christopher will tell you that if he’s playing the male lead, you’re probably not watching your average Broadway musical, and he’d be right.

But while “Shrek the Musical” may not be your typical Broadway show, it certainly was a successful one, earning eight Tony Award nominations in 2009. This month Home Made Theater puts on its own production of the stage show based on a movie, and Christopher plays Shrek, everyone’s favorite ogre. The show opens Friday at the Spa Little Theater and closes on Oct. 30.

‘Shrek the Musical’

WHERE: Home Made Theater, at Spa Little Theater, Saratoga State Park, Saratoga Springs

WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through Oct. 30; performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday

HOW MUCH: $29-$26

MORE INFO: 587-4427, www.homemadetheater.org

“I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m never going to play the leading man,” said Christopher, who has portrayed Uncle Fester in “The Addams Family” at Home Made and Franz Liebkind in “The Producers” at the Schenectady Light Opera Company. “I am a character actor. But that is what’s neat about this character. The character actor in this show is the leading man.”

Christopher, who grew up in Johnstown and now lives in Ballston Spa, says he feels right at home playing Shrek.

“I’m usually drawn to the characters that are a bit different, a little weird,” he says. “Shrek was the outsider, and I was the fat little kid growing up with the goofy face, who felt like an outsider. We both felt a little bit out of place, but Shrek ends up being the hero, so that’s something most everyone can connect to. It’s a wonderful story that people can really relate to.”

“Shrek the Musical” is based on the 2001 animated film “Shrek.” It is set in the land of Dulac and tells the story of an ogre who must rescue Princess Fiona from a dragon in order to reclaim his swamp and allow Fiona to marry Lord Farquaad.

The voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow were featured in the film, which was based on the 1991 book by William Steig, “Shrek!” The film won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature and earned another nomination for Best Screenplay.

It was lyricist David Lindsay-Abaire, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for “Rabbit Hole” in 1997, and director Jason Moore who began transforming the animated film into a staged musical in 2003. Jeanine Tesori provided the music, and in December of 2008, after a Seattle preview, the play opened on Broadway with Brian d’Arcy James as Shrek, Sutton Foster playing Princess Fiona and Christopher Sieber as Lord Farquaad. It earned eight Tony Award nominations, winning one for Best Costume Design, and ran until January 2010.

Joining Christopher on the Spa Little Theater stage will be Mike Belloti as Lord Farquaad, Nik Gatzendorfer as Pinocchio, and Brittany Leigh Glenn as Fiona. Dawn Oesch is directing the show.

Although Christopher may be finally playing the lead, even his closest friends will have trouble recognizing him.

“I have a cowl, a hood and a prosthetic nose,” said Christopher. “That’s OK with me. Acting allows you to become a different person and escape. You’re not yourself because you become a different person. That’s why I love acting. It’s my passion. I’d do it every day if I could.”

Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]

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