Dancer and dance teacher Leslie Chapman steps into role of Fairy Godmother in Diablo Theatre Company’s Shrek the Musical.
Actually, it’s one of several dance-spiced roles she plays in this hilarious song-and-dance comedy about a green ogre who rescues a beautiful princess from a tower. Like other ensemble members, Chapman shifts between characters. She gets a spin as a tap-dancing rat, a puppeteer for the dragon puppet, and a dancer from the kingdom of Duloc.
“So far I am loving all of the dancing I get to do in the show,” says Chapman, a Sonoma State graduate who now teaches tap, jazz, and contemporary dance at the Susie Harper School of Dance in Benicia, where she also lives.
“Our director/choreographer has come up with some wonderfully quirky and fun choreography,” Chapman adds. “The dancing has also been a fun challenge since we have to learn it really fast.”
Champman’s most notable role, of course, is Fairy Godmother, who in the 1950 Disney animated film Cinderella helped the poor, mistreated beauty get to the ball and dance with the prince. Fairy Godmother’s magic wand conjured up not just a gorgeous gown but glass slippers and a coach to take her to the royal palace.
With Shrek the Musical’s amusingly irreverent take on fairytales, Fairy Godmother’s story unfolds a bit differently. She joins a gaggle of other fairytale creatures who suffer the indignity of Lord Farquaad ejecting them from Shrek’s swamp. After mustering their courage with a rousing chorus of “Freak Flag,” these creatures band together to stand up against the imperious aristocrat with a short-man complex.
“The story of Shrek is a very special one,” Chapman says. “It teaches us that being different is OK, and we should love who we are no matter what. This message is driven home in the number ‘Freak Flag,’ which is also one of my favorite songs in the show.”