‘Shrek the Musical’ teaches… don’t judge a book by its cover

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Actor Alan Mingo Jr. is having more fun playing the character of Donkey in “Shrek The Musical” than he thought he would.

“The role is great! What makes it worthwhile is getting kids into the theater. That builds another generation of theater goers. There are four films about Shrek and everyone who comes into the theater, for the most part, has already been introduced to him and have a high expectation for the characters,” Mingo said.

Shrek-Musical
CAST FROM ‘SHREK’

“Shrek The Musical” tells the story of an ugly but good-hearted ogre who goes on a life-changing odyssey to reclaim the deed to his land. He is joined on the journey by his wise-cracking best friend, Donkey.

While on the trip, the unlikely hero fights a fearsome dragon, rescues a feisty princess and learns that real friendship and true love aren’t only found in fairy tales.

“A lot of the show is about having a friend that sticks by you. And learning to love yourself and then love will come and find you. Donkey wants a friend and wants to belong,” Mingo said.

The musical, which ran at the Benedum Center last month, is based on the story and characters from William Steig’s book, “Shrek!” and the first chapter of the DreamWorks film series, “Shrek.”

“We are thrilled to send ‘Shrek The Musical’ to theaters across the country,” said Bill Damaschke, president of Dream Works Theatricals. “And for American families to experience their favorite ogre and fairy tale creatures live on stage.”

Mingo said he watched the series of “Shrek” movies to prepare for the coveted role of Donkey, but he didn’t get the chance to speak with iconic actor, Eddie Murphy, who originated the role of Donkey in the movies.

“That would have been nice,” said Mingo about speaking with Murphy. “But the producers didn’t give me a choice. They didn’t tell me that the character had to be like Eddie’s character. But he stays close to the animated character.”

Playing a puppet is not strange for Mingo. Prior to his role in “Shrek The Musical,” Mingo played several other animated characters on stage and Broadway including, Sebastian in “The Little Mermaid” and Simba is the Los Angeles version and the first national tour of Disney’s “The Lion King.” He also played Tom Collins in the Italian version of “Rent” for Luciano Pavarotti.

“‘Rent’ made a huge impression on the audience and it had a huge fan base. The whole show meant a great deal to me. It was challenging but it was worth it,” Mingo said.

He feels his role as Donkey in “Shrek The Musical” is worth it as well.

The Los Angeles-based actor said it takes him 30 minutes to suit up into the costume which is made out of ultra suede patches and a fishnet body suit underneath. During the two-hour and 20-minute show, the dedicated actor only gets a four minute break out of the costume.

“It’s a challenge because I have to wear these patches over my hands that serve as Donkey’s hooves and before the show started, I had to memorize every part and then try to write down everything later because of them,” Mingo said.

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