Entertainment

Starry nights ahead for Langley actress

Langley’s Lindsay Warnock and Matt Palmer star in Theatre Under the Stars’ summer 2014 production of Shrek the Musical, which opens tonight (July 15) in the Malkin Bowl outdoor theatre at Stanley Park. - Tim Matheson submitted photo
Langley’s Lindsay Warnock and Matt Palmer star in Theatre Under the Stars’ summer 2014 production of Shrek the Musical, which opens tonight (July 15) in the Malkin Bowl outdoor theatre at Stanley Park.
— image credit: Tim Matheson submitted photo

Lindsay Warnock can’t help but laugh as she recalls standing on stage in Stanley Park’s Malkin Bowl  two summers ago, and having a raccoon wander up in the middle of a performance of The Music Man.

“It’s a hilarious thing to try to keep going when there are these two glowing eyes staring at you,” chuckled the Langley actress over the phone, during a break in rehearsals of this summer’s production of Shrek the Musical.

But, like true professionals, Warnock and her castmates carried on with the scene, only cracking up once they were safely off the stage.

The odd, unexpected cameo by local wildlife is just one of the things that make performing in TUTS special, said Warnock, who makes her third appearance with the outdoor theatre company this summer.

After playing keyboard in TUTS’ 2011 production of Bye Bye Birdie, Warnock stepped out of the orchestra pit and onto the stage the following year for The Music Man, where she played Ethel Toffelmier — a role that earned her the E.V. Young Award for Most Outstanding Performance.

This summer, the Langley Fine Arts School and Capilano University theatre graduate has been cast as Princess Fiona in Shrek, which opens tonight (July 15) in Stanley Park.

The show will alternate nights throughout the summer, with TUTS’ other production, Legally Blonde.

As places to spend a summer evening go, the Vancouver park — recently named the best in the world by TripAdvisor — isn’t half bad, admitted Warnock.

“It’s a beautiful place to go and work and do theatre,” she said.

“I would jump at the chance to return to TUTS again and again, just because it’s such a unique experience. Being outdoors, you get the setting sun . . . . It’s really gorgeous, just a nice environment.”

And many of the audience members are regulars who have been coming for years, she said, so they’re prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at them — whether it be a bit of rain or a few hungry mosquitoes.

And, rain or shine, bugs or raccoons, said Warnock, coming out to see Shrek will be worth it.

“I was a huge fan of the movie when I was a kid,” said the 22-year-old, whose day job is as an emcee for the famous Grouse Mountain Lumberjack Show.

“When I heard there was a musical version, I couldn’t wait to see what it was about.”

With songs like Let Your Freak Flag Fly, Shrek the Musical, which opened on Broadway in 2008 and is still touring in the UK, focuses on the message that everyone is unique and should be proud of who they are.

As a family-oriented show, Shrek works on two levels, said Warnock, with some jokes that will appeal to younger audience members and others that will fly straight over their heads, for the grown-ups in the crowd.

Anyone who is familiar with the fairy tale — about a grumpy ogre who must rescue a beautiful princess in order to return peace and quiet to his beloved swamp — will know that  Warnock’s character, Fiona, undergoes a rather startling physical transformation toward the end of the story. Asked how an actor can be taken from human to ogre during a live production, she called it “an 88-second magical transformation.

“It’s fast and it’s furious, but it works,” she chuckled. “And I’m so excited for the crowd to just be amazed by how fast it ends up being.

“It gets a little manic backstage, but there is lots of help and it ends up being stunning when it happens.”

Playing across from Warnock as Shrek, is Matt Palmer, a performer whose work was already familiar to the Langley actress.

“As soon as I found out who I was working with, I was super stoked,” she said.

But she has been equally impressed by the numerous young actors she has met for the first time while working on Shrek.

“In this production there are a whole lot of new, fresh faces. There is so much talent in this show. The ensemble, who are playing the fairy tale creatures, are unbelievably talented. I’m excited to work with them.”

Warnock will get to do just that every second night from now until Aug. 22.

In July, Shrek will play on odd numbered dates, Legally Blonde on even dates; in August, they will switch.

Shows start at 8 p.m., except on fireworks nights, when the curtain will rise an hour earlier. Tickets range from $30 to $45.More details are available on the Theatre Under the Stars website at tuts.ca.

Tickets may also be purchased by phone by calling 604-696-4295. Call centre hours are Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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