Inside the Mind of Lord Farquaad

We are sitting down with Joel Varty, an actor who has portrayed characters for VOS such as Bob Wallace in White Christmas, Curly in Oklahoma, and Sir Robin in Spamalot.  Now he’s back onstage with Shrek the Musical in a role that may not be in his comfort zone.

Joel Varty refused to don the Shrek Ears for his photo.

VOS: Joel, how tall are you?
Joel Varty: Just over six foot three.  I’m pretty used to being the tallest person on stage.

VOS: How did the production team cut you down to size for this role?
JV:  That’s a good way of putting it really, because, in addition to being on my knees, I also needed a bit of an attitude adjustment.  It’s a whole new way of approaching the stage physically and emotionally, both from my point of view as an actor, and also as the character.  Farquaad is a far cry from anything I’ve ever done before.

VOS: How do you deal with the physical aspect of being on your knees onstage for so long?
JV: It’s been a process.

We started out with research on what other actors have done who’ve played the part and looked at what kind of look the director wanted to achieve.  We built up a custom-made rig from a whole bunch of different things.  From construction grade knee pads, to umpire’s leg guards, to aluminum rods used to hold everything in place.

Joel and JP

VOS: So, what’s it like being the shortest person on stage?
JV: Well the funny thing about Farquaad is that, in his mind, he’s not little at all.  He thinks of himself as a big man, the king, and really, he thinks he’s the hero of the show.  He never got the memo that he’s the villain. So I guess my answer is that I don’t really know what it’s like, because I’m just like Farquaad.  I’m still a tall guy onstage that just happens to be underneath everybody else’s eye level.  Wierd.

Farquaad and the Guards

VOS: What can audiences expect from this show?
JV: First of all, I am very proud to say that we have J.P. Baldwin appearing onstage, (by permission of Canadian Actors Equity) and he and I have some really fun scenes together.  He plays Pinochhio as well as Farquaad’s lackey executioner, Thelonius.  Mix in some Steve Russell, blend it with Marlena Sculthorpe and toss in a Donkey named Jamie Hunt.  It’s all good.  We have a great time both in character and backstage.

Audiences should expect to be entertained, but also to use their own imaginations, which is how this story translates so well from screen to stage.  It’s about tearing down barriers and building relationships.  Also lots of singing and dancing.  And a dragon.

Farquaad and Fiona

Don’t miss Joel as Lord Farquaad in the VOS Production of Shrek the Musical!  Shows run Thursday to Sunday this week, and the Thursday to Saturday next week.

Ruth Harcort – 1929 – 2014

Ruth Harcort - 1929 - 2014

VOS THEATRE dedicates the run of Shrek the Musical to our founder, teacher and dear friend Ruth Harcort.

The VOS was founded 24 years ago because Ruth wanted to do a show her way.

We’re still focused on producing our shows Ruth’s way; with heart, dedication to excellence, in an atmosphere that brings us together as family – with a crazy hat thrown in every now and then for good measure.

Tuning up in the Swamp

The orchestra is sounding great for Shrek the Musical!  Victoria Hall comes alive as soon as the conductor’s baton hits the stand and all the musicians start to work.  Then you see lights, and it’s just magic.

Come see the VOS production of Shrek the Musical at Victoria Hall in Cobourg – you’ll be glad you did – and the friend that you bring will be glad, too!

Introducing Alexia Boyagian as Young Fiona

In the VOS Production of Shrek the Musical, Young Fiona is a big talent in a little package.  Alexia Boyagian has been coming to the theatre with her parents since she was “ten months old.”

Alexia plays Young Fiona and Baby Bear in Shrek the Musical
Alexia plays Young Fiona and Baby Bear in Shrek the Musical

“When I was a baby,” she says, “my parents said that everytime people would sing badly, I would scrunch my face up.”

The 3 Fionas

We asked about the first sing-through for Shrek the Musical Orchestra.  “I was nervous at first,” she replied, “and then it felt kinda good.”

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Alexia sings with Marlena Sculthorpe (Fiona) and Emma Sandziuk (Teen Fiona)

When asked about what she likes about Shrek the Musical, she said, “The solos are fun.  The people are really nice.  I love my baby bear costume and my tiara. It’s ironic that the three bears is one of my favourite classic fairy tales, and I’m playing baby bear.”

Alexia talk with Producer Liz Clark
Alexia speaks with Producer Liz Clark about her experience in the VOS production of Shrek the Musical

Who is her favourite character in the show?  “Donkey,” she replied.  “He’s funny, just like in the Shrek movies.  I think Jamie [Hunt] is really good in the role and was well cast.”

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What’s the best part of being in a VOS show?  “Everyone’s really nice, and I’ve made new friends.  Especially my friend Shasta [Tinkerbell].”

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Here is a tiny sneak peek of our talented Alexia in I Know It’s Today, from Shrek the Musical.