NUANGOLA — When Dane Bower was a little kid, he “used to be obsessed with” the book “Where the Wild Things Are.”
So maybe it’s especially fitting that Bower portrays the title ogre in “Shrek the Musical,” another story about someone who looks pretty scary on the outside but isn’t so scary once you get to know him.
“Throughout the whole show, people judge him without knowing him,” said Bower, of West Wyoming, who expects to spend 90 minutes — it took two hours on opening night — getting into his green make-up before this weekend’s final shows at the Grove Theatre in Nuangola.
Shrek may be misunderstood, Bower said, but at the beginning of the story, audiences will see he has contributed to his own isolation.
“He’s kind of jaded by the world and he’s learned to put up walls to protect himself,” Bower said. “He’s more emotionally fragile than he wants the world to know so he presents himself as unapproachable, to protect himself. Maybe as much as the world has misjudged him, he’s misjudged the world a little bit.”
Enter Donkey, who’s willing to be Shrek’s friend, even if Shrek is a bit abrasive.
“It reminds me of Steve Martin and John Candy in ‘Planes and Trains and Automobiles,’ ” Bower said. “Steve Martin’s character is like Shrek, kind of short-tempered, and John Candy’s character really means well, has a heart of gold, but is a bit much. They learn to love each other.”
Later, Shrek will learn to love Fiona, and because this is an upside-down kind of fairy tale, their true-love’s kiss won’t exactly change them into slender, graceful, outwardly beautiful creatures. But that won’t matter.
“People who bring kids, afterwards they might want to talk about the moral of the story, about how judging someone by appearance is not the right thing to do.”
For children, the show is colorful and fun. For adults, there is some subtle humor, accompanied by lots of dancing and clever songs.
“My personal favorite is ‘Who I’d Be,’ sung by Fiona, Shrek and Donkey, ” Bower said. “Melodically, it’s beautiful with nice harmony, and there’s a sort of longing to it, kind of an underlying sadness.”
If you come to the show, Bower said, “Be prepared to laugh, because it’s very funny, but it’s also very touching.”
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT
IF YOU GO
What: ‘Shrek the Musical’
Where: The Grove Theatre, 5177 Nuangola Road, Nuangola
When: 8 p.m. July 24, 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. July 25, and 3 p.m. July 26
Reservations: 570-868-8212 or [email protected] Discounts are available for groups and children.