Chicago Shakespeare Theater Announces Casting for SHREK THE MUSICAL

H3_a_NL (1)Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) announced today the acting company and creative team for Shrek The Musical, the Theater’s annual summer family musical, directed and choreographed by Rachel Rockwell with music direction by Michael Mahler, July 13–September 1, 2013 in CST’s Courtyard Theater. Based on the Academy Award®-winning DreamWorks film and the book by William Steig, CST’s 75-minute production ofShrek The Musical will take audiences on an unconventional fairy-tale adventure with everyone’s favorite ogre. The production features two Jeff Award-winning actors: Michael Aaron Lindner as the lovable ogre Shrek and Summer Naomi Smart in her CST debut as the spunky Princess Fiona. In support of Mayor Emanuel’s Summer of Learning Program, special activities will be offered in conjunction with Shrek The Musical for students to earn a “Bard Badge.”

Shrek The Musical tells the story of a swamp-dwelling ogre who goes on a life-changing quest to reclaim his home. Accompanied by a wisecracking donkey, this unlikely hero fights a fearsome dragon and rescues the cursed Princess Fiona. On this untraditional fairytale journey, Shrek discovers the value of friendship and realizes that true love is more than skin deep. The 75-minute, family-friendly version of the Tony Award®-nominated production has music by Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Caroline, or Change), with book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole, Wonder of the World, Good People).

Named the 2012 Chicagoan of the Year in Theater by the Chicago Tribune, Jeff Award-winning director Rachel Rockwell returns to Chicago Shakespeare to direct and choreograph Shrek The Musical, after staging last summer’s critically-acclaimed Beauty and the Beast, hailed as “far and away the best family production of the year” by the Chicago Tribune. Rockwell’s additional credits with CST include the world-premiere family musicals The Adventures of Pinocchio andThe Emperor’s New Clothes. Rockwell’s Chicago-area directing and choreography credits include productions at Marriott Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Apple Tree Theatre and Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook, where she garnered a 2010 Best Director Jeff Award for Ragtime

Michael Aaron Lindner returns to Chicago Shakespeare as Shrek, having last been seen at CST as Louis/Billy Webster in the critically-acclaimed Sunday in the Park with George. Other Chicago credits include: Edna in Hairspray (Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook); Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre) and the title role in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Jeff Award, Porchlight Music Theatre). Jeff Award-winning actress Summer Naomi Smart makes her CST debut as Princess Fiona. Chicago credits include: Sweet Charity at Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook (Jeff Award Best Actress), The Light in the Piazza at Marriott Theatre and the Chicago production of Wicked. James Earl Jones II makes his CST debut as the wisecracking sidekick Donkey. Credits include: Dreamgirls (Marriott Theatre), The Wiz (Theater at the Center) and Porgy and Bess (Court Theatre). Travis Taylor returns to Chicago Shakespeare as Lord Farquaad, after previously portraying the Beast in last summer’s CST family musical Beauty and the Beast. Other Chicago credits include: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook); Pirates of Penzance (Marriott Theatre); and Brigadoon (Light Opera Works).

Actors making their Chicago Shakespeare debut include: Cameron Conforti as Young Shrek/Baby Bear, Adam Fane as Pinocchio/Ensemble, Caroline Heffernan as Young Fiona/Ugly Duckling, Emily Leahy as Young Fiona/Ugly Duckling, Sarah Page as Witch/Ensemble, Alexis J. Rogers as Mama Bear/Dragon, Joey Stone as Papa Bear/Papa Ogre and Matthew Uzarraga as Young Shrek/Baby Bear. Actors returning to Chicago Shakespeare include: Norm Boucher as Wolf/Thelonius/Dwarf, Tommy Lucas as Pig/Knight/Ensemble, Rebecca Pink as Gingy/Teen Fiona, Liam Quealy as Pig/Knight/Ensemble and Will Skrip as Pig/Knight/Ensemble.

The creative team for Shrek The Musical includes Music Director Michael Mahler, OrchestratorRyan Nelson, Scenic Designer Scott Davis, Lighting Designer Jesse Klug, Costume DesignerTheresa Ham, Projection Designer Mike Tutaj, Sound Designer Garth Helm, Wig and Make-up Designer Melissa Veal and Properties Master Chelsea Meyers.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater continues its successful collaboration with the Chicago Children’s Museum (CCM) presenting the following series of programs featuring Shrek The Musical

  • Shrek The Musical cast members visit CCM’s Great Hall for a short program followed by an opportunity for visiting children and families to interact with cast members on Wednesday, July 31 at 2 p.m. and Thursday, August 1 at 6 p.m.
  • CCM Staff and Volunteers offer free hands-on art activities in the Theater’s lobbies between noon and 2 p.m. on Friday, August 2 and Saturday, August 3.

Shrek The Musical will offer activities as part of Mayor Emanuel’s Summer of Learning program. The initiative represents an innovative public-private coordination to incorporate learning into summer youth programming, launching what could be the largest citywide summer learning campaign in the nation. The city's partnerships with youth-serving organizations, colleges and universities, museums and cultural institutions, and businesses will make the whole summer count in a new and different way. Shrek The Musical will offer young audience members an opportunity to learn about the art of storytelling in the context of a professional theatrical production. After seeing the play, students will be prompted to reflect on their experience and respond to their favorite elements of the production through take-home questions and activities printed in the program. Completion of the activities will earn each young person a “Bard Badge.”

Shrek The Musical
is recommended for ages 5 and up and runs July 13–September 1, 2013.Tickets are $18–$25 with special discounts available for groups of 10 or more. All patrons receive a 40% parking discount at Navy Pier garages. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at

About the CST Family Series
Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s CST Family Series presents a wide range of affordable programming especially for families. As part of CST’s commitment to making theater and live performance accessible to all ages, offerings year-round include Short Shakespeare! adaptations of Shakespeare classics, summer musicals of imaginative children’s tales, classical music concerts in collaboration with The Chicago Chamber Musicians and the recently expanded Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, which provides FREE Shakespeare performances in neighborhood parks throughout Chicago. These programs reach more than 45,000 patrons each season—making Chicago Shakespeare one of the largest providers of family programming in Chicago. CST has also championed the creation of new family productions, commissioning and producing three world-premiere summer musicals to great acclaim: How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back?, about a group of students who bring a modern twist to Aesop’s fables, The Emperor’s New Clothes, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale; and The Adventures of Pinocchio, based on Carlo Collodi’s classic tale of a wooden puppet who yearns to be a real boy.

About Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Chicago Shakespeare Theater is a leading international theater company, known for vibrant productions that reflect Shakespeare’s genius for intricate storytelling, musicality of language and depth of feeling for the human condition. Recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award®, Chicago Shakespeare’s work has been recognized internationally with three of London’s prestigious Laurence Olivier Awards, and by the Chicago theater community with 70 Joseph Jefferson Awards for Artistic Excellence. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, CST is dedicated to producing extraordinary classic productions, new works and family fare, unlocking Shakespeare’s work for educators and students, and serving as Chicago’s cultural ambassador through its World’s Stage Series.