Palmer dons the Shrek suit for TUTS

Maillardville native Matt Palmer will portray Shrek for the TUTS production this summer. - tim MATHESON
Maillardville native Matt Palmer will portray Shrek for the TUTS production this summer.
— image credit: tim MATHESON

For three or four times a week this summer, Maillardville native Matt Palmer will be fitted with prosthetics and spray-painted green to transform into Shrek.

But the two-hour process to become the cartoon character — plus an extra hour to take it off post-show — gives Palmer just another reason to love live theatre.

“I’ve worn wigs and mustaches and shaded my skin darker but I’ve never worn prosthetics,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s just part of the fun of being an actor.”

Palmer will don the giant foam head piece and ogre clothing to star in the production at Theatre Under The Stars, which has Shrek: The Musical and Legally Blonde running on alternating evenings starting next Friday at the Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park.

Shrek is “silly, light-hearted and fun,” Palmer said, and it sticks closely to the first movie script. “It does make a couple of neat changes for the musical version.”

Joining Palmer on stage will be Lyndsey Britten, who returns to TUTS after 11 years to portray Peter Pan, one of the Three Blind Mice as well as some ensemble parts.

Britten is best known locally for her work at Gleneagle secondary (where she graduated last year) as choreographer of Footloose, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Seussical and The Wizard of Oz; she was also the Coquitlam high school’s stage manager and a fundraising organizer.

Trained at the Caulfield School of Dance, Britten said she’ll be studying to be an events planner at the Art Institute of Vancouver during the day while performing at TUTS every other night. “I think I’ll be resting a lot and taking care of my body,” she said when asked about how she’ll be balancing both work loads.

As for Legally Blonde, director and choreographer Valerie Easton of Port Coquitlam said she’s thrilled TUTS decided to remount the production with last year’s understudy of Elle Woods, Jocelyn Gauthier, taking on the perky sorority gal role.

“When you hear about Legally Blonde you think it’s going to be dumb but, actually, it’s a very clever script and very funny,” Easton said.

Easton also commented on the trend for Lower Mainland shows this year that cater to younger crowds. This spring, the Royal City Musical Theatre — of which she is the artistic director — put on Annie: The Musical, starring Port Moody’s Julia MacLean.

“If you don’t start cultivating your audience while they’re young, those people aren’t going to be there in the future,” Easton said, adding, “When you go for the first time [to the theatre] you don’t realize there’s a connection to the person on the stage and how that makes you feel in comparison to watching something on a screen. There’s really quite a difference.”

“All of us in the theatre are passionate and need to pass on that on to our up-and-coming audience so we don’t lose them,” Easton said.

• Theatre Under The Stars runs July 11 to Aug. 23 at 8 p.m. at the Malkin Bowl. Call the box office at 604-696-4295 or visit tuts.ca.


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