Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Behind The Scenes Secrets

The Birmingham Daily Mail recently talked to Faye (Princess Fiona) and Dean (Shrek) about their very different transformations into big green ogres.

They also take a sneak peak backstage and reveal some interesting facts about this incredible production.

Some articles say Faye's on stage transformation from Princess to Ogre takes 90 seconds, others - like the one below - suggest it's more like 50. I've seen the show 12 times and I still couldn't be sure which is right; all I know is it's remarkably quick.

Shrek the Musical is at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Sunday 26th April.


There are 2 weeks and 16 performances left so you still have time to catch this years must see show and it's special Princess before they leave town. Don't miss out.


Leading lady Faye Brookes takes just 50 SECONDS to transform into an ogre during the show.
“It has to be like a slick, very fast Formula One pit stop,” says company manager Neil White of the super-quick change.

“At least Dean doesn’t get green paint splashed on his face!” says Faye, who plays Princess Fiona.

“We have the change very carefully choreographed now. It comes quite near the end.

“I just stand there while two wardrobe people – one at the front and one at the back – strip off my princess outfit and put on my ogre suit.

“There are two people doing my wig and two people doing my make-up. They put my nose and head on, then the wig, then brush green paint all over my face.

“There’s no time for me to see what I look like. But the first time I saw myself in a mirror after the show, I burst into tears. It was such a shock!”


Leading man Dean Chisnall takes more than TWO hours for EVERY show to get into his green make-up.

He has to sit patiently while two make-up artists carefully glue on all the silicone prosthetic pieces which have been specially made to fit his face.

“I just zone out and can’t think about what’s happening around me,” says Dean. “I watch TV or read a book.

“For the first few times I played Shrek I did get a bit claustrophobic but it’s fine.

“The thing that really surprised me was just how unbearably hot it is in the costume. It feels light when you put it on but you sweat so much that it’s really heavy by the end.

“And parts of my face, especially my chin, are in danger of becoming unglued during the show so when I go offstage people push them back into place.

“I have to drink eight litres of water during the show to keep hydrated.

“It’s a real physical work-out, it’s exhausting, but I’m not complaining. Shrek is my dream role, parts don’t get much bigger than this!

“He’s an iconic character and to play him is a real thrill.”

Dean is the only member of the cast to have been in it from the beginning, when it opened in the West End in March 2011.

For the first year he understudied Shrek before taking over the role, then joining the UK tour which is now halfway through a two-year run.

The first time he actually played the ogre was in front of millions of TV viewers, during a live semi-final of Britain’s Got Talent because judge Amanda Holden was the original Fiona.

“I’ve done about 900 performances and at least 500 in the make-up Shrek,” says Dean.

“When I say it like that it’s frightening, but really I do love it. Even on matinee days when I keep the make-up on for 11 hours.

“You just get used to it. I get regular facials to cope with the battering my skin takes. I also have to be careful because I have eczema and a latex allergy, so I can’t have any latex, only silicone, next to my skin.”


Backstage at this spectacular musical is a treasure trove of colourful, quirky objects.

There’s a white rabbit next to a puppet Puss in Boots and an animatronic Gingy – a gingerbread man biscuit with attitude.

In the corner is the dragon, who is operated by four puppeteers. She’s remarkably light but you have to be careful with her fragile silk and sequins.

Over there is a sign saying “I do believe in fairies!” next to a big Shrek padded bottom.

The fabulous fairytale costumes are lined up, from Red Riding Hood and Snow White to Pinocchio and the Three Blind Mice.

In the corridor are a selection of Shrek fatsuit bodies, drying out after the washing machine.

Upstairs is head of make-up Craig Forrest from Dickens Heath, who has to make sure everyone looks their best – or greenest.

Open a drawer in his department and you can find silicone hands and baby Shrek heads.

Company manager Neil White says: “The great thing about Shrek is that it’s so colourful, as we bring the animation to life.

“And everything that was in the Drury Lane show is here, it’s not a scaled-down version but the West End show.

“It’s clever because it works on two levels. It appeals so much to children but there is also humour for adults that goes over their heads.”


26 actors in the cast.

90 people work backstage, including a 13 piece orchestra, four in make-up, four in wigs and 15 in wardrobe.

23 of the cast play 115 different characters.

They need 100 wigs and 300 costumes.

£100 is the cost of just one prosthetic pig’s nose.

The set and props are transported in nine articulated trucks. The crew had just 48 hours to move from Newcastle and set up in Birmingham.

19 is the age of actor Idiriss Kargbo who plays Donkey.

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