A Shrek chronology

Photo by Helen Maybanks.

Photo by Helen Maybanks.

In 2001, a big, ugly, lovable green ogre called Shrek burst onto our screens and an instant classic was born.

We were intrigued to find out where this off-beat fairytale came from, and how it made its way to the West End, Broadway, and soon to be Canterbury in 2015!


14 November 1907
American cartoonist, sculptor and latterly children’s author William Steig is born in Brooklyn, New York, to Polish-Jewish immigrants from Austria. His father, Joseph, was a house painter and his mother, Laura, was a seamstress.

1923
Steig graduates from Townsend Harris High School at the age of 15, but doesn’t complete any of the three colleges that he attends, admitting that he had “a defective education”.

1930
Steig sells his first cartoon to The New Yorker, having started to draw when his family suffered from financial problems during the Great Depression. The cartoon has a prison inmate telling another, “My son’s incorrigible, I can’t do a thing with him!”

1944
A book of Steig’s cartoons, entitled Small Fry is published. The New York Times says: “What they prove to the parents and elders is that 8-year-olds do not change from one generation to another, that the world of childhood is compounded of miniature terrors and glorious daydreams, and that Mr. Steig – not to put too fine a point upon it – is wonderful.”

William Steig hard at work in 1973. Image via New York Social Diary.

William Steig hard at work in 1973. Image via New York Social Diary.

1968
William Steig publishes his first children’s book, entitled CDB!, which uses letters to represent words (hence, CDB! becomes “See the Bee”). This is followed by Roland The Minstrel Pig, beginning a career of books that are peopled with animals.

1990
Shrek!, about a young ogre who finds the ogre of his dreams when he leaves home, is published for the first time, written and illustrated by William Steig. The name of the central character is derived from the German/Yiddish word ‘schreck’, meaning ‘fear, terror’.

The beginnings of Shrek.

The beginnings of Shrek.

2001
The animated film of Shrek is released by DreamWorks Animation, starring the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz. The film will go on to become an international success, closing in the cinema to a worldwide gross of nearly $500M.

2001 Shrek wins an Oscar®, in the new Academy Award category of ‘Best Animated Feature’.

Shrek film
2003
William Steig dies at the age of 95, in Boston, USA. His prolific output has generated more than 25 children’s books, even though he only started writing them in his sixties!

On one occasion he said: “I think I feel a little differently than other people do. For some reason I’ve never felt grown up”, which perhaps helps to explain his interest in this area of publishing. Steig’s passing is noted on the end credits of Shrek 2, with ‘In Memory of William Steig, 1907-2003’.

2004
Shrek 2, is released, followed by Shrek The Third (2007) and Shrek Forever After (2010). Several other shorter Shrek projects are completed, including Shrek 4-D (2004), a ride at Universal Studios and Shrek The Halls (2007), a Christmas special. Shrek is one of the highest grossing film series of all time.

14 December 2008
Shrek The Musical opens at the Broadway Theatre in New York City, starring Brian d’Arcy James as Shrek and Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona. The show is described as ‘true happiness’ by the New York Times and ‘enormous fun’ by the Wall Street Journal.

Shrek at the Broadway Theatre, New York.

Shrek, “Bringing Ugly Back” at the Broadway Theatre, New York.

2010
The North American tour of the musical launches in Chicago starting a 60 city, two-year tour of the US.

14 June 2011

Shrek The Musical has its UK premiere at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, starring Nigel Lindsay as Shrek, Richard Blackwood as Donkey, Nigel Harman as Lord Farquaad and Amanda Holden as Princess Fiona.

Shrek Tour Rehearsals 32, Gerard Carey (Lord Farquaad), Photo Credit - Helen Maybanks

Shrek tour rehearsals begin. Photo by Helen Maybanks.

July 2014
Shrek The Musical hits the road on its first ever tour of UK & Ireland, directed by Nigel Harman.

Feb 2015
The tour arrives with us in Canterbury!

Photo by Helen Maybanks.

Photo by Helen Maybanks.


Shrek The Musical is with us from Wednesday 11 February – Sunday 1 March.

Our Aladdin launch day

Our Aladdin cast, left to right: Scott Maslen, Lloyd Hollett, Ben Roddy, Bentley Kalu, Masashi Fujimoto, Phil Gallagher, Christine Allado and David Albury.

Our Aladdin cast, left to right: Scott Maslen, Lloyd Hollett, Ben Roddy, Bentley Kalu, Masashi Fujimoto, Phil Gallagher, Christine Allado and David Albury.

It may only be June, but Sunday was all about panto! Our annual launch is the first time our pantomime cast get to meet each other (if they haven’t already done so) and is also our chance to say hello to the people who will share our theatre for two months over Christmas.

It wasn’t all about the niceties though – it’s always a busy day and this year seemed even busier. Somehow – and with the help of lots of water (it was hot!) and Ben Roddy’s jokes – we managed to do a photo shoot, film our green screen moving posters, interview cast members, film our television advert (you’re in for a treat), and record the radio ads. Phew.

Thanks to everyone (especially the cast) for making it such a productive and fun day. If we’ve started as we mean to go on, it’s going to be some show!

As you can see, pantomime isn’t just for Christmas. The launch is just one of the many activities that take place throughout the year, from casting to curtain up. Read more about this at a later date.

So, here’s Ben Roddy saying hello and introducing you to our wonderful cast.


And now for a glimpse behind the scenes…

Aladdin at The Marlowe Theatre 2014 David Albury and Christine Allado as Aladdin and Jasmine.

A costume adjustment during a photo shoot with our Aladdin (David Albury) and Jasmine (Christine Allado).

Ben Roddy and Lloyd Hollett (Aladdin at The Marlowe Theatre 2014)

Ben and Lloyd chat to a journalist in The Green Room.

Aladdin at The Marlowe Theatre Canterbury, television advert filming on press launch day

Filming for the television advert begins with a dance number from our ensemble cast.

Ben Roddy, Lloyd Hollett and Phil Gallagher in Aladdin at The Marlowe Theatre. Press launch day.

A break between filming for Ben, Phil and Lloyd.

Masashi Fujimoto as the Emperor of China.  Aladdin at The Marlowe Theatre 2014.

Masashi Fujimoto as the Emperor of China, striking a pose. Masashi has had a varied acting career but you may remember him as host of Channel 4’s Banzai!

Scott Maslen in Aladdin at The Marlowe Theatre. Press launch day.

Scott enjoying the glitter storm.

Ben Roddy in Aladdin at The Marlowe Theatre Canterbury 2014. Press launch day.

Ben really enjoying the glitter storm…

Christine Allado in Aaddin at The Marlowe Theatre 2014. Press launch day.

A happy end to the day for Christine Allado (Princess Jasmine) and Paul Hendy.

Ben Roddy in Aladdin at The Marlowe Theatre 2014. Press launch day.

And a clumsy one for Ben.

Aladdin plays at The Marlowe Theatre from Friday 28 November – Sunday 11 January. All photos by Tim Stubbings.

The Marlowe meets… Tiernan Douieb

Tiernan Douieb's Everything You've Ever Needed To Know Ever...And Some Extra Stuff

We’re having a brilliant half term here at The Marlowe with Canterbury Children’s Festival. It’s lovely having a foyer full of happy children and an occasional appearance from a big blue monster too! There’s still a few days left with our last day this Saturday.

If you came to Comedy Club 4 Kids at the festival last year you may remember the very funny Tiernan Douieb. He’s back this year with his super silly comedy show Everything You’ve Ever Needed To Know Ever…And Some Extra Stuff, ready to impart some wisdom and most importantly, make your little ones laugh!

We caught up with Tiernan to find out what it’s like performing stand-up comedy to a younger audience.

What inspired you to create comedy for children?

James Campbell who created the Comedy Club 4 Kids asked me to try doing it after seeing some of my adult stand-up, which was, at the time, quite silly. I did one set at an early Comedy Club 4 Kids show in Camberwell and found it more fun than a lot of adult shows. I took over the Comedy Club 4 Kids along with two others after James Campbell wanted to pursue his solo career a few years ago and have since started writing my own solo kids shows too.

Do you remember your first experiences of seeing comedy as a child?

I can’t remember seeing live comedy, but I do remember managing to persuade my parents to let me watch some of the BBC show Friday Night Live when the likes of Alexei Sayle, Ben Elton and Harry Enfield were first starting out. I didn’t understand it all but I thought it seemed really exciting and when I did it get it, very very funny.

Any interesting heckling experiences with your family shows?

Lots. Just recently I’ve been asked ‘why aren’t you made of pepperoni?’ and yesterday a small boy shouted out of nowhere ‘my mum wants to sing a song.’ She didn’t. And she looked very embarrassed about it! Kids rarely maliciously heckle. It’s more something they just have to tell you. My ‘Everything Ever’ show really encourages children to shout things at me, so I’ve had some brilliantly odd comments during the run.

You studied here in Canterbury at the University of Kent. Do you have fond memories of the city? Does Canterbury have a funny bone?

I loved studying in Canterbury. I think it’s a such a beautiful town and yes it does have a very good sense of humour. I started stand-up comedy because of part of my Drama course taught by Dr Oliver Double, so nearly all my early gigs were in and around the city. They were loving, supportive and quite forgiving crowds in Canterbury, which I’m pleased about or I may not have been persuaded to continue doing it for a career!

What should audiences expect from Everything You’ve Ever Needed To Know Ever…And Some Extra Stuff?

It is an hour of very silly nonsense. I know everything there is to know ever, of course, and some more stuff than that and I have decided it’s only fair I use this knowledge to answer certain very important questions that children need to know answers to. I use a variety of drawings, have a couple of guests to help me on the way and hopefully solve some queries from the crowd.

 And lastly, your favourite joke?

That’s a tough question. I recorded a Vine video when asked this question recently, of me telling a joke that always make me laugh, so probably this one.


Tiernan Douieb’s Everything You’ve Ever Needed To Know Ever…And Some Extra Stuff plays at The Marlowe Studio on Saturday 31 May at 11am as part of Canterbury Children’s Festival.

Canterbury Children’s Festival is sponsored by Lipscomb Volvo.

I Believe In Unicorns – do you?

I Believe In Unicorns

Photo: Richard Davenport

As we approach May half term that means one thing – the monsters are coming!

Canterbury Children’s Festival returns from Saturday 24 – Saturday 31 May with a variety of magical shows and workshops, at The Marlowe and The Beaney, for your little monsters to enjoy.

One of those shows is I Believe In Unicorns – an adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s enchanting tale. It’s a story of childhood, imagination, and of course – unicorns!

We were lucky enough to hear from the Unicorn Lady herself, Danyah Miller, who is the producer and performer of the show.

How did you get into performing?

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a performer, to be on the stage. As a little girl my desire never wavered from this and as I grew older my love of theatre increased. My degree was in Drama, Dance and English, however afterwards I found myself involved in theatre management, marketing, box office and administration. I was good at this but still yearned to be on the stage!

When my daughter, Sofie, was born I wished for her to follow her dreams and in an instant I knew that I would have to follow my own. When she was nearly one year old, Sofie and I set off to L’Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jaques Lecoq in Paris to retrain in mime and physical theatre. On my return I immediately became involved in storytelling and performing. I had finally found my way of expressing my creativity and I have continued to develop that since. It has taken me a while to find what I am most joyful doing, but I have, and I love it!

What do you most enjoy about storytelling?

As a storyteller I love the balance between being myself and creating characters. I love interacting with the audience, sharing stories, listening to stories. I love the depth and breadth of stories, they touch us in so many ways, unexpectedly sometimes. When left to their own devices a good story, however it is told and whatever medium, begins its secret work inside us! We are all story creatures, it is a large part of what makes us human, we are always sharing stories with each other…

What do you think is the most important element in a theatre production?

The audience! I believe that there is triangle between the story, the performers and the audience where magic is created.

As a producer I also recognise the importance of building and developing a really strong and coherent team to create a show, however large or small. This includes creative, production, administrative and marketing practitioners. When the whole team is fully engaged and excited by the project alchemy occurs!

Which productions have you seen that have influenced and inspired you the most?I Believe In Unicorns. Photo:

As a young girl I remember seeing Geraldine Chaplin in Le Cirque Imaginaire and it took my breath away! I vowed then that I wanted to be part of this magic on stage… I was taken to RSC as a young teenager and mostly remember the smell of the place and how imbibed with emotion it was.

Between school and university I lived in London and went to see as much theatre as I possibly could, on every day off I saw a matinee and evening show. I remember sobbing my heart out during Angels in America and Normal Heart and dancing and singing down the street after watching Robert Lindsay and Emma Thompson in Me and My Girl.

I love how a piece of theatre, dance, physical theatre or music can take me on such a journey, transform me. This Christmas I watched Dani Parr’s Along the Riverbank, it was delicate, funny and moving. As I watched it was as if I was a five years old again, my heart skipping when the butterflies and dragonflies flew over us and when Ratty and Moley chatted to the children… I was transfixed!

There are so many incredible theatre productions I have had the privilege to see. I particularly like children’s and family shows and want everyone to have the chance to see superb and compelling theatre whatever their age.

Which part of Unicorns do you love performing?

All of it!

It is a superb story and one of which I never tire… As each show finishes I know that I have to wait until I can begin again! I love sharing this story and its interactive nature.  Secretly I think my favourite part of the show is drinking the milk!

Do you believe in Unicorns?

Totally and joyfully and absolutely – yes! What is great is that maybe you will too when you have seen the show…


I Believe In Unicorns plays at The Marlowe Studio on Monday 26 May as part of Canterbury Children’s Festival.

Canterbury Children’s Festival is sponsored by Lipscomb Volvo.