A certain green ogre, having conquered the box office, the video store, and a fairy-tale kingdom or two, is ready to take on Broadway. DreamWorks has been planning for at least two years to turn Shrek into a musical, and now, the studio has announced, it's at last hired a creative team to stage the show.
Sam Mendes, the Tony-winning stage director behind celebrated recent revivals of Cabaret and Gypsy, and the Oscar-winning director of DreamWorks' own American Beauty and Road to Perdition, will oversee the creation of the musical but is not directing it. That task will fall to Jason Moore, nominated for a Tony this year for directing the not-for-kids puppet musical Avenue Q. Writing the script will be David Lindsay-Abaire, the playwright behind such Off Broadway successes as Fuddy Meers and Kimberly Akimbo (a play that DreamWorks is adapting into a movie). No composer has been named.
In adapting Shrek for the stage, DreamWorks is clearly taking a page from Disney, which has enjoyed huge successes by turning its cartoon features Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King into long-running Broadway musicals. ''There's a supreme challenge in bringing an animated world to the stage and making it theatrical,'' Moore told the New York Times. ''But what's so wonderful about Shrek is that anarchic attitude placed in a fairy-tale world that I think will thrive onstage.''
Despite a target date of 2006, it's not clear when the curtain will actually rise. For one thing, Moore has a lot on his to-do list, including turning Avenue Q into a TV series and a Las Vegas show, directing a live-action TV musical version of Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, shooting a TV pilot for Fox, and staging a Broadway revival of Steel Magnolias. But Mendes told the Times that there's no rush, that DreamWorks would rather do it right. ''There isn't the sort of corporate pressure being exerted that this has to be done for a set prerelease date,'' he said.