In 2001 a well-loved, but lesser known children’s book became an overnight sensation when DreamWorks Animation launched the film Shrek
to overwhelming, worldwide acclaim. Over 70 years earlier, William Steig began his career as illustrator. Named the “King of Cartoons” by Newsweek
, William Steig remains The New Yorker’s
longest-running contributor, with more than 1,600 drawings and 117 covers to his name.
At age 60, Steig began writing and illustrating books for children. His work Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
earned him the Caldecott Medal, the highest honor bestowed on children’s picture books. In 1990, the semi-retired illustrator penned the now famous story about a loveable ogre and his quest to reclaim his home from the evil Lord Farquaad. Along the way, the ogre meets the love of his life and his life-long best friend taking a conventional fairy-tale and turning it upside down.
William Steig wrote and illustrated children’s books up until the last year of his life and died in 2003 at the age of 96. Shrek
is a modern day fairy tale that departs from the styles of other notable fairy tale authors. Among the most famous fairy tale authors are Hans Christian Andersen, known for his whimsical tales, and The Brothers Grim, whose dark and foreboding stories contain devilish characters. Shrek
utilizes a group of classical fairy tale characters from Grimm and elsewhere to convey important life lessons.
Much like the stories of the Brothers and Andersen, Shrek
speaks to both adults and children—cutting wit for the former and simple charming metaphors for children. The fairy tale archetypes in the show, including the indomitable Pinocchio, clearly represent themes in popular culture. Each character embodies a sense of optimism and vigor that, while absent from classical fairy tales, fit nicely into the mindset of a new and involved generation. Shrek, the loveable ogre, presents a very different character than those in classic fairy tales. Rather than threatening, he is kind, strong and wise.
This twist and modernization of a fairy-tale caught the eye of DreamWorks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg, who immediately fell in love with the story and characters. Academy Award-winning film director Sam Mendes thought the project would be perfect for a Broadway musical, but Jeffrey felt the first step in the process would be to see how these characters came to life on the silver screen before taking on the Great White Way.
In 2001, DreamWorks Animation released a film about a big, lovable, ugly green ogre in search of love, winning the hearts of millions and going on to be awarded the first ever Academy Award for Animated Feature film. With its Hollywood success, it was time to take Broadway by storm. DreamWorks assembled the most celebrated, talented and slightly twisted creative team on Broadway. SHREK THE MUSICAL
debuted on Broadway in December 2008 and went on to receive eight 2009 Tony Award
See this hilarious and heartfelt musical comedy at the Orpheum Theater October 23-28, 2012. Tickets available at TicketOmaha.com