TGIF ‘Shrek’ actors relate to their fairy tale personas By Jackie Carberry July 15, 2015 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! STAR-ADVERTISER'Shrek' at Diamond Head TheatreCOURTESY BRAD GODA / DIAMOND HEAD THEATREShrek Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. For some actors, the lure of the stage is to indulge a cerebral side, playing weighty roles in productions by William Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams and such. For LeGrand Lawrence, playing the title character of a moody ogre in the sunny fairy tale "Shrek the Musical" is much more appealing. "It’s a dream come true," said Lawrence politely, with a gentle demeanor that contrasts wildly with that of grumpy Shrek. "The role is on my bucket list." Fans of the "Shrek" movies (and the award- winning picture book by William Steig) have come to love the contemporary tale of an ogre who is content to live alone in his sanctuary in the forest until he falls in love with a feisty princess named Fiona, played by Leiney Rigg. It only takes an hour or so of heavy green makeup to transform Lawrence into the hulking Shrek, the giant with a big heart and a bad temper. "I almost didn’t recognize myself," marveled the 2001 Kahuku High School graduate of the first time the makeup and wardrobe team readied the cast for a photo shoot. Lawrence, who first appeared in "Spamalot" in 2014, says he identifies with Shrek — or at least he did, growing up. "I feel I get judged on outward appearance first, and so I wanted to play him," he said. ‘SHREK THE MUSICAL’ >> When: Opens 8 p.m. Friday; continues at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 16; additional shows at 3 p.m. July 25, Aug. 1, 8 and 15 >> Cost: $15-$50 >> Call: diamondheadtheatre.com or 733-0274 Shrek’s beloved princess, played by Rigg, says she also can identify with her character. "You almost never get to play a Disney-like princess with a goofy side, and I can relate to her," said Rigg, who has appeared in several productions locally including "The Addams Family," "White Christmas" and "42nd Street." "She’s quirky and fun. She’s the anti-princess." Jonathan Causey plays the part of Shrek’s ingratiating sidekick and comic foil, Donkey. DHT’s production is directed and choreographed by Tammy Colucci and the musical direction led by Megan Mount. Like the "Shrek" movie that the musical is partly based upon, the production includes plenty of wisecracks and pop-culture references that both kids and adults can appreciate — as well as some body-humor jokes that kids (and some adults) can enjoy. Some scenes not as relevant to the plot have been trimmed for time constraints, while the musical boasts an expanded repertoire of songs and also incorporates dancing. Expect to see Fiona break out into a tap dance, too. The original 2001 "Shrek" movie starring Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow and Eddie Murphy is one of Lawrence’s favorites. "I love an animated movie about the underdog," said Lawrence. "We all know the story of ‘Shrek,’ and the more we see of Shrek, the more we see his vulnerability, his love, friendships and whatnot, the better we like him." The characters in the DreamWorks-made movies, which also include an angst-ridden Gingerbread Man and the vertically challenged Lord Farquaad, are similar to the ones in the musical, said Rigg. "People who did the movie — Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy — are masters of comedy," said Rigg. "The challenge is to make good choices in playing the roles without being carbon copies of the original characters." Rigg credited director Colucci for "reeling us in" when actors ventured too far out of their familiar roles. The Broadway version of "Shrek the Musical" received eight Tony Awards in 2009. One of the challenges in reproducing "Shrek the Musical" on a local theater stage is that the Broadway version of "Shrek the Musical" was one of the priciest productions ever made, said Lawrence. "We have to make the same magic happen, but on a smaller budget," he said. For Rigg, the challenge in playing Fiona is the vocal and physical stamina that the part requires — but it is also partly why the energetic actress signed up for the role. "You’re dancing for two songs and then need a burst of energy to break into song," she noted. "It’s dance, dance, dance and then singing onstage." One of the songs called "Freak Flag," in which the entire ensemble sings, sums up the feel of the production for Rigg. "We all share the same message: Be yourself. It leaves me with a warm, tingly feeling," she said. "The morals are of the Disney-movie role type but less cliche. "You end up rooting for the right people," she promised. Previous Story Young rockers quickly gaining popularity in the isles Next Story The Pulse Top Five: Paul Stanley, Hawaii Five-0, 'Burnin' Love'