Let your freak flag fly


Based on the 2001 major motion picture featuring the voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow, Shrek The Musical tells the story of a swamp-dwelling ogre, who tries valiantly to reclaim the deed to his land. During his crazy adventure, he rescues a feisty princess and begins an unlikely friendship with a fun-loving donkey, all the while learning about the joys and sorrows of life and love.

David F.M. Vaughn plays Lord Farquaad in the Tennessee Performing Arts Center production on January 25-30. His other theatre credits include Enjolras in the regional premiere of Les Misérables, and Riff in the New Orleans Opera production of West Side Story. Vaughan is also a composer, winning "Outstanding Music and Lyrics" for his work on Extraordinary! at the 2005 NY International Fringe Festival. Vaughn spoke with Out & About Newspaper about portraying this amusing and immoral character.

In your own words, what would be your brief summary for someone who has no knowledge of the Shrek franchise?

It’s basically about an ogre whose swamp is infested by these fairy tale creatures who have been exiled out of the kingdom. It’s my character, Lord Farquaad, who banishes these freaks from his kingdom. So the ogre tries to save Princess Fiona, who my character wants to marry, and eventually she and the ogre fall in love.

Describe your character, Lord Farquaad, and what similarities and differences you have with him?

Again, I play ruler of the kingdom, an evil ruler, and my goal is to find a princess, marry and become a king. This character is very interested in power and homogenization. I try to play him very silly and very ridiculous, which is kind of like myself, just really random and off-the-cuff. It’s all about this silly humor. But basically he’s this quintessential evil character, which is not like me. (laughs)

What can the audience expect during the performances?

I’ve been doing the show for three years. Of course, I started it on Broadway, and then I’ve done it in Seattle. The great thing about the show is that it’s a family musical, but it’s not just for parents to bring the kids. It’s truly enjoyable for everyone. There’s political humor; there’s over-the-head adult humor. The musical follows suit. We’ve added a little local humor. We change lines for each city. Of course, there are some great jokes for the kids as well. Sometimes there’s this baggage where people think it’s just a kids’ show, but it’s a fully-scored Broadway musical  that has a lot of joy and has a lot of heart and it shares the back story of where these characters came from.

Have you ever visited Nashville?

I’ve only been to Nashville one time in my life. When I was getting set up in the business, I had this idea that I’d move to Nashville, even though I’d never been. It just seemed like this really great place. A very good friend of mine moved there a couple years to kinda start his life over, so I called him and asked if I could spend a weekend in Nashville. We drove around to all the bars and Pancake Pantry and all these places. One place that I’d really like to see this time is the Opry.

How has your experience as a composer helped you as a performer?

I feel like the music is so interconnected with the show obviously. As a composer, learning the structure of music translates directly as a performer. You learn the musical format and all the behind-the-scenes stuff. And it’s been so fun to work with composer Jeanine Tesori. It’s been fun as a composer to see what she does with the production. This year I’d like to move into directing. As an actor, there’s nothing worse than meeting a director who’s never acted before, so I feel like I can speak the language of actor as well and just keep on learning.

Ticket prices for Shrek the Musical range from $27.50 to $72.50 and are available at the TPAC Box Office (505 Deaderick Street, Nashville). Order online by visiting tpac.org or by calling 615-782-4040. Group orders of 10 or more may be placed by calling 615-782-4060. For more information, visit www.ShrekTheMusical.com or http://www.tpac.org/shrek.