Perhaps Kermit put it best: "It's not easy being green." Keeping him company in celadon is Perry Sook, the 21-year-old star of "Shrek the Musical," which comes to Bakersfield on Monday.
The performer, who has previously starred in regional productions of "Oliver!" "Oklahoma," "Legally Blonde" and "Ragtime," steps into the tall shoes of the show's eponymous ogre.
"They have me in 2.5-inch shoes. I'm about 6-4 in costume."
Regardless of some hardships (see below), Sook describes the show as professionally "the biggest and most blessed opportunity I've had."
The show derives from the plot of the first film, with some surprises. The tour is about wrapped up, with seven stops after next week's Bakersfield show. We caught up with Sook on the phone in Bellingham, Wash., before his show on Tuesday.
Are you a fan of the "Shrek" films or did you know anything about it prior to joining the show?
In 2001, when the first "Shrek" movie came out I was 10 years old, so I was in one demographic. Now, 12 years later, with the release of the fourth movie ("Shrek Forever After") not too long ago I'm on the other demographic of the show. I got to love it from all angles.
What is your favorite part of playing Shrek?
One thing that is amazing is that he's a superstar. Before I even step out on stage, everyone knows who he is. He has such a fan base already. It's a great honor to play such an icon.
How long does it take you to get into costume?
Quite a long time. There's a 65-pound fat suit and 7 pounds of makeup. From Perry to Shrek, it is a two-hour process: one hour and 15 minutes for makeup, 10 to 15 minutes for myself to get ready and 20 minutes to get into costume. It's an extensive head-to-toe transformation. One thing about the show, the costumes are amazing and remarkable.
What is your favorite number?
At the end of Act 1, it's "Who I'd Be." Shrek really opens up for the first time, realizing that life in the swamp isn't all there is.
What would you say to people who think they don't need to see a musical version of a story they know?
We all know the story of Shrek. So why do you need to pay money to see it when you can see it on your TV? It's a totally different experience. It adds and supplements the original story. It's really magical.
Even 140 shows in, I find it remarkable every day to see what's going on around me. The dragon is a giant 25-foot puppet run by four people. Without fail, in the biggest venue or the smallest venue, the dragon always receives ridiculous praise and applause -- and deservedly so. It's an amazing part of the show.
With a dragon, a donkey, fairy-tale refugees, a princess with a big secret and a frantic villain as co-stars, do you see yourself as more of a straight man in the show?
Definitely. When Shrek is funny, he doesn't think he is funny. He is funny due to his odd mannerisms, so he's not the "funny man." Lord Farquaad gets the most laughs. ... (But I don't mind -- ) as long as an audience is enjoying the show, you don't care who gets the laughs. We're all a team.
Is this your first touring show? What is the schedule like?
Yes, it is. Sometimes it's hectic and sometimes it's not. You get to see the world from all over: We've had a lovely day in Seattle, got to see the Northern Lights in Alaska.
With multiple shows, when I'm in a different town, it gets a bit hectic. But we might be the biggest show they get all year.
Do you get any time in the town that you're in?
It varies completely based on schedule. Yesterday (Monday) we had a travel day and we were done at 10 a.m. So we had from 10 a.m. to when we went to bed (free). It really just depends. You're grateful when you get to see some of the local color.