DeKALB – Dan Hyde has embraced his large head, awkward ears and green skin.
As the actor portraying Shrek in Stage Coach Players’ production of “Shrek the Musical,” Hyde spends more than two hours in makeup as volunteers bring the green ogre’s ensemble to life with a specially made silicone head of foam, witch hazel, latex and grease paint.
The elaborate costumes, upbeat music and quirky one-liners are just some of the components that make the community theater’s production of “Shrek the Musical” unique.
Stage Coach is the first community theater in Illinois to adopt the off-Broadway production based on the popular DreamWorks film that focuses on embracing differences.
“It’s about acceptance,” Hyde said. “It’s a pretty commonplace type story, except for the fairytale creatures.”
The show features Shrek, an ogre who rescues a beautiful princess, Fiona, played by Amanda Smothers, who is waiting for her Prince Charming. Shrek and Fiona are accompanied by their quirky friend, Donkey, played by Greg Hammond.
“A lot of the lines are right from [the movie],” said director Gloria Dennison. “Donkey and Shrek are definitely Donkey and Shrek.”
Dennison said she fell in love with the show when she saw it in Chicago.
“I walked out and said, ‘I want to direct that.’”
The Stage Coach production opened June 6, and sold out several performances its first weekend. The show’s two-week run concludes this weekend.
The production is very similar to the movie with the exception of the 15 musical numbers, Dennison said.
“It’s the most fun music in the entire world,” she said.
But putting on a show that hasn’t been done by a community theater troupe before has been a challenge, Dennison said. The costumes were all unique to the Stage Coach production and the actors were learning songs they had never heard.
Many actors, including Jeff Hall, also face the challenge of navigating the stage in complex costumes.
Hall, who portrays the villainous, height-challenged Lord Farquaad, spends about 40 minutes of the show walking around on his knees.
“It has its unique challenges,” he said. “You have to think differently.”
Hall is no stranger to thinking differently, especially in productions that emphasize individuality. He directed the CCT production of “Honk!,” which demonstrates the value in being different.
With so many controversial issues in today’s world, Hall said the message always can be promoted more.
“It doesn’t get said enough,” he said.
Hyde said he hopes the show’s subject matter will not only leave a positive impact on the children, but the adults as well.
“We’re still all learning as adults and sometimes we need to be reminded of our attitude toward people that are different,” he said.
Dennison said audiences will enjoy the story and its humor, but the message still will be very clear.
“The whole point of the show is that it’s OK to be different,” she said. “You can let your freak flag fly.”
If you go
What: "Shrek the Musical"
Where: Stage Coach Theatre, 126 S. Fifth St., DeKalb
When: 7:30 p.m. June 13 through 15, 2 p.m. June 15 and 16
Tickets: $15, adults; $12, age 12 and younger
Information: 815-758-1940 or www.stagecoachers.com