Brighton Theatre Group plan big summer production of Shrek – The Musical

The response has been fantastic… a real indication of everyone’s desire to get back out there and have fun.

Michael Burnie
Michael Burnie

Worthing-based Michael Burnie is going to be the director as Brighton Theatre Group embark on plans for a late-summer production of Shrek – The Musical.

Michael, who lives just near the beach, admits that this latest lockdown has been the toughest so far. But he’s certainly buoyed up by the first response to the Shrek plans.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

Within three days, around 65 adults had confirmed their interest, plus a similar number of young people – and the really encouraging thing is that a lot of them are people Michael doesn’t know already.

After a sell-out run of Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang at the Theatre Royal Brighton in 2019 with a cast of over 100 performers and nine dogs, Brighton Theatre Group are hoping to be back there again at the end of August. They are promising it will be the company’s biggest production so far.

“Anyone aged 16-plus can come and join us at a Zoom adult show meeting on Sunday, February 28 at 7pm; anyone aged nine-15 can come and join us at a Zoom youth show meeting on Sunday, March 7 at 7pm.”

The meetings will discuss all aspects of the production, auditions and rehearsals in preparation for a run at the venue from August 18-21. For an adult-age (16-plus) Zoom show meeting link, email Keith Shepherd with your full name and contact telephone number at [email protected] For a youth age (nine-15) Zoom show meeting link, email Keith with your and your child’s full name, age and contact number at [email protected]

The interest is huge so far: “I think we are offering hope. The number of people that have come forward since we put this out are immense, and I think the point is that whatever happens, people are just really, really looking forward to something, whether it is holidays or whether it is the chance to be in this show.

“For most of 2020 and the past few weeks I have been working on Zoom, and it has just had to become part of our lives.

“We decided that we would have these Zoom meetings and people can apply to join the meetings until the day of the meetings.”

A possible problem, maybe even a likely problem, is that they will exceed the 100-person limit on Zoom, in which case additional meetings will be confirmed.

A big part of the interest is doubtless that the show is Shrek: “The issue sometimes can be finding new shows, and obviously we don’t want to do repeats, to bring back old shows a few years later. It is difficult. There are not that many new shows a year.

“Our last was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang back in 2019, and we found out just before that that we had got Shrek.

“They were releasing it to only a few companies in the UK. And we were really excited about it. It is a very, very popular musical and there have been the films as well. It is lovely. It just takes you away from everything that is happening at the moment.”

The company’s approach is to proceed with hope.

“We are working out our schedule. We will have the meetings and we will give everybody audition material and we will give them the whole of March to prepare for it, the songs, the dances, the audition dialogue, and then in April we would usually start the auditions… but obviously we don’t know between now and April what the situation will be. But if we get to April/May and we are not able to start, we will go back to the theatre to see if they have got for a date later in the year that we can pencil in for maybe October/November. That’s the big overall plan. If we get to May and we have still got restrictions and we are starting to think that we just don’t have time to put this together, then we will go back and speak to the theatre. Personally I feel that everybody would totally understand.”