In ogre his head: Going green with the star of Shrek
It ain’t easy being green, especially when you’re an ogre whose swamp has become the official campsite for a host of unwanted fairy tale creatures. Harder still? When you’re the title actor behind the North American tour of Shrek the Musical. As everyone’s favourite Scottish-accented beast, Lucas Poost has to sit and squirm through an hour-long makeup process to bring out the ogre within.
Theatre review: War Horse gallops off to victory The transforming moment in War Horse — transforming in every sense — comes about 20 minutes in. Joey, the title horse, changes before our eyes from foal to full-grown stallion. It would be unfair to reveal exactly how, but up until this point Joey has been a life-size skeletal puppet, visibly manipulated by three performers whom it is sometimes confusingly easy to mistake for characters in the story; stable hands perhaps?
The puppeteers are still in evidence when Joey grows up, but they’re now so disposed that we can tune them out. For the rest of the evening we believe in Joey as an actual horse, even while remaining happily aware that he’s a product of theatrical wizardry. The magic is manifold. The technical peak coincides with an emotional peak. And that synergy, of spectacle and feeling, keeps going throughout the show.
Head or tail: Giving life to the War Horse When audiences see Joey full-grown for the first time, galloping to the front of the stage, its paper mane and tail flapping like streamers, they applaud like children at a circus. These horses neigh and nuzzle. They rear and fall.
Theatregoers are witnessing a magic trick, a feat of the imagination. For when the two people controlling the horse from the inside and the one manipulating its head are in synch, the puppeteers disappear. However, when they are not connected, when there is a misstep, a break in the rhythm, the audience very quickly sees three grown men trying to operate an equine skeleton. (Photos: Courtesy of Mirvish)
Phillinganes is sitting on the stage at Montreal’s Bell Centre where Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour debuted to 15,000 spectators this past weekend, including Jackson’s mother, his three children and three of his brothers. Around Phillinganes, the crew is setting up for another show. On the floor, a contortionist practices handstands on a gigantic book.
“He loved Cirque,” Phillinganes says about Jackson, who died in Los Angeles in June 2009. “He has seen all of their shows, at least twice, brought the kids, met the Cirque brass, visited headquarters — and when he did, they couldn’t pull him out of the costume wing.” (Photo: Cirque du Soleil)
The Mirvish production, which is based on the eponymous Victor Hugo novel and a musical — first mounted in 1985 by the Barbican Center in London — by Claude Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, follows a group of characters during the French Revolution. (Lee Celano/Reuters)