Princess Fiona is not your run-of-the-mill fairy tale princess. Although she may be locked in a tower when Shrek arrives to “rescue” her, she is hardly the damsel in distress of classic fairy tale lore. Fiona is quirky, audacious, and has a great sense of humor. As she and Shrek get to know each other, they find they share the same humor and manners (rather akin to those of young teenage boys).
Fiona also carries a secret: when she was a child, a curse was laid upon her causing her to transform into an ogre at sunset, each evening. When the sun rises in the morning, she returns to her human form. Fiona is ashamed of her ogre form, and tries to hide it from everyone. The only cure for the curse is true love’s kiss; it will return her to love’s true form. She has faith that the man who rescues her from her tower will be her true love, just like in fairy tales. When Shrek initially rescues her, she is dismayed and horrified. Overtime, however, Fiona is surprised to learn that life is much less simple than the way it is written in storybooks.
Lord Farquaad is the Napoleon-esque ruler of Duloc. He is ruthless, ambitious, and self-absorbed. To counter this dangerous personality, Lord Farquaad is comically short in stature, a point of amusement brought up by the other characters, often.
Lord Farquaad’s ambition to be king knows no bounds. He is searching for a princess to marry in order to legitimize his royal claim. He has no real love for nor interest in his fiancée, Fiona, except that he is obsessed with her crown. Deep down, Lord Farquaad is actually very lonely, but instead of reaching out to others in friendship he asserts his power by acting with cruelty against the fairy tale creatures in his realm. Threatened, he persecutes and banishes the entire population of magical beings. This bias stems from a lingering childhood resentment of his father, who was a dwarf.
Donkey is a loud, lovable, chatty donkey — that’s right, a talking donkey. Shrek meets him when Donkey is on the run from some of Lord Farquaad’s guards. Shrek saves Donkey, who decides — much to Shrek’s annoyance — to accompany the ogre on his journey to rescue Princess Fiona. Unlike everyone else Shrek has met up until this point in the play, Donkey is not put off by Shrek’s appearance or manners. Eventually, he is even able to worm his way into the grumpy ogre’s heart.
Donkey is easily frightened in dangerous (or not dangerous) situations. He can be a bit pushy, obliviously missing social cues and foisting his presence upon others. His genuine sweetness and unending optimism, however, never fail to endear him, eventually, to those around him.
This role may be performed by an actor of either gender. The performer must have a large stage presence, strong personality, comedic ability, and adept physicality.
Shrek, an ogre who lives alone in a secluded swamp, is the grumpy, smelly, surprising hero of this fairy tale. His self-imposed hermitage prevents him from ever having to interact with the world. When anyone looks at an ogre, all they see is a humongous, belching, terrifying monster,and Shrek is accustomed to playing into this perception to keep other creatures at a distance.
Shrek is gruff and grumpy upon first meeting, but beneath that hard exterior lies a kind and vulnerable heart. On his journey to remove all trespassers from his swamp, he makes his first friend, Donkey. The two meet when Shrek stumbles upon Donkey in trouble; Donkey is attempting to evade capture by Farquaad’s guards. Shrek saves the talking animal and expects to continue on his way alone, but Donkey decides (much to Shrek’s dismay) to join the ogre. Shrek’s annoyance Donkey’s verbose and constant chatter eventually melts, and in this unlikely companion — whom he originally would have preferred to do without — Shrek finds a friend on whom he comes to confide in and rely on. He is more surprised than anyone when he falls in love with Princess Fiona, who he initially intends to kidnap and bring to Lord Farquaad. He is initially too nervous and full of self-doubt to express his feelings – he can hardly admit them to himself! With Donkey’s encouragement, Shrek eventually gains the courage to open up and tell Fiona how he feels.
The Dragon is the ferocious guardian of Princess Fiona. She has set many knights aflame in the course of her duties. She is growing bored and lonely, however, cooped up in the isolated castle. When Donkey arrives, she falls in love with him almost immediately, and attempts to woo him into staying with her, forever. She is flirtatious and imposing, which unfortunately are more intimidating than attractive to Donkey.
Gingy is a sweet and earnest gingerbread man in peril, held captive and tortured by Lord Farquaad. Lord Farquaad tries to extract information from Gingy about the fairyland creatures who have gone into hiding, but he is thwarted in his attempts, as Gingy is clever and resourceful. Refusing to betray his magical brethren, Gingy, instead, inspires the other fairyland creatures to stand up to Farquaad.
Pinocchio is the beloved animated puppet (played by a live actor) who cannot tell a lie without his growing nose betraying him. In this tale, however, Pinocchio is a far sassier boy than in his previous renderings, though he retains his fondness for fibbing. At the start of the play, Pinocchio is frustrated that the Fairy Tale creatures are being treated as second-class citizens As the action continues, he grows up and takes increasing initiative to act upon his frustrations, developing into the leader of his persecuted group.
Fiona is a young princess faced with an unpleasant situation. Keeping in line with tradition, her parents lock her away in a tower, guarded by a dragon. According to the stories, she is expected to stay in the tower until her true love finds her and rescues her. Her imprisonment in the tower, so the stories say, is essential to her finding true love. Young Fiona spends her time in captivity reading fairy tales, believing wholeheartedly that her own knight in shining armor will appear any day to rescue her. Fiona is lively, sweet, and hopeful. This performer is often double cast as a member of the ensemble.
Fiona is a young princess faced with an unpleasant situation. Keeping in line with tradition, her parents haved lock her away in a tower, guarded by a dragon. According to the stories, she is expected to stay in the tower until her true love finds her and rescues her. Her imprisonment in the tower, so the stories say, is essential to her finding true love. Now an adolescent, precocious Fiona is growing a little more impatient and sarcastic after waiting, locked up in a tower, for a number of years with no opportunity for adventure and absolutely no freedom – still, she remains optimistic and hopeful that her imprisonment will soon end. This performer is often double cast as another character in the ensemble.
These knights were once on individual quests to save Princess Fiona from the tower in which she is trapped, under the guard of a dragon. Unfortunately for them, they were not successful in their attempts. They have been held hostage by the dragon ever since. According to them, they are the lucky survivors; all other failed knights were incinerated. The dragon keeps these four around to sing backup for her.
Shrek, an ogre, and his companion, Donkey, encounter the knights, chained to a wall. They have clearly been in the castle for some time. They have long beards and wear the remains of rusted armor. They seem to have relatively good humor about their situation, although they nervously shush Shrek and Donkey for fear that the two might wake their captor.
Fairy Tale Creatures
The Fairy Tale Creatures are a motley crew of familiar fantasy figures: the Big Bad Wolf, the White Rabbit, the Fairy Godmother, Peter Pan, the Wicked Witch, the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Ugly Duckling, the Three Bears, the Mad Hatter, Three Blind Mice, Humpty Dumpty, the Three Little Pigs, and the Shoemaker’s Elf. The fairy tale creatures are being persecuted, arrested, threatened, and banished by the cruel ruler of Duloc, Lord Farquaad. They flee to the swamp of Shrek the ogre, seeking refuge. They eventually want to return to their homes, however, and stand up to tyrannical Lord Farquaad, insisting that he no longer treat them as second-class citizens.