James, Gregory II and Tartaglia Set for Broadway's Shrek

By Andrew Gans
and Kenneth Jones
March 20, 2008

Brian d'Arcy James, the singing actor who was recently seen in the Off-Broadway musical Next to Normal, has landed the title role of the green ogre in Shrek the Musical, which will bound its way into the Broadway Theatre Nov. 8.

Joining James will be Cry-Baby's Chester Gregory II as Donkey and Avenue Q Tony nominee John Tartaglia as Pinocchio. The threesome join the previously announced Sutton Foster (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Young Frankenstein) as princess Fiona, Christopher Sieber (Monty Python's Spamalot) as Lord Farquaad and Kecia Lewis-Evans (The Drowsy Chaperone) as the dragon.

The musical based on the DreamWorks Animation film will officially open Dec. 14, making family audiences happy for the holidays. The New York life of the show begins after an August tryout in Seattle.

Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole) pens the lyrics and libretto (based on the kid-lit character created by William Steig), and Tony Award nominee Jeanine Tesori (Millie, Caroline, or Change) is writing the music.

DreamWorks Theatricals is co-producing with Sam Mendes' Neal Street Productions Ltd. Jason Moore (Avenue Q and the Carnegie Hall Jerry Springer — The Opera) is directing.

Josh Prince will choreograph the production, which will feature musical direction by Tim Weil.

The musical is based on the first film of the popular three-movie series.

Shrek will play an exclusive world premiere engagement at The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle Aug. 14-Sept. 21.

Brian d'Arcy James was seen on Broadway last season in the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of The Apple Tree. The singing actor made his Broadway debut in Blood Brothers, and his other Main Stem credits include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Carousel, Titanic and Sweet Smell of Success, earning a Tony nomination for his performance in the latter. James' Off-Broadway credits include the recent Next to Normal as well asThe Good Thief (Obie Award), The Wild Party, Ancestral Voices, Velvet Vise, Public Enemy and Floyd Collins.

Chester Gregory II, who is currently starring in the new Broadway musical Cry-Baby, has also been seen on Broadway in Tarzan and Hairspray. A native of Gary, IN, Gregory has also appeared in productions of The Jackie Wilson Story, Train Is Comin', Soul of Black Music, Scapin and Drowning Crow. His awards include a Jeff Award (Best Actor in a Review), a Black Excellence Award (Best Actor in a Musical), a Black Theater Alliance Award (Best Actor in a Musical) and an Audelco Special Performance Award in 2003.

John Tartaglia made his Broadway debut in Avenue Q (earning a Tony Award nomination for his work) and returned to Broadway to play Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast. He has also appeared on stage in concert versions of Children of Eden and Hair as well as Carnival for City Center Encores! He also stars on the Disney's Channel's "Johnny and the Sprites."

Visit www.shrekthemusical.com for more information.