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 Falling for a princess

FAYE Brookes is no stranger to Birmingham having collected rave reviews from Behind The Arras as Elle Woods in her visits in Legally Blonde at The New Alexandra Theatre in both 2011 and 2012.

And now the blonde law student has become a redhead Princess as Fiona, the feisty love interest in Shrek, and she is a character that Brookes just loves.

She said: “She is pretty dynamic. She is complex as a character, simply because she has been in that tower for 20 years. She is slightly bipolar and she kno fionaws all she wants is to have her happy ever after. She has her story books and she has read every one because she has been in her tower for so long and she just wants her Price Charming, her knight in shining armour.

“So when I was physically looking at it I thought ‘well I probably don’t have to do much, just step into the beautiful green dress’ but when she does get to escape and she is with her Price Charming you realise she is just a bit psychotic and she throws herself into everything whether it is a song or a tap dance (watcht the rats tapping).

Faye Brookes as Princess Fiona trapped in her tower

“It wasn’t so much a transformation as for other characters,

Gerard Carey is on his knees for Lord Farquaar and Dean Chisnall has to be in make-up for two hours and has to go through prosthetics but I do get to transform into the ogre at the end of the show and it is a 90 second change, which is so quick, but it is also a part of her character that no one gest t see until the end.

“Emotionally its more of a transformation for myself. I go through a whirlwind of who am I? What am I? Is it OK to be this ogre? Finally we understand at the end that there is beauty is on the inside - there is that lovely old saying of don’t judge a book by its cover  - and also, different is good and it is OK to be a freak.

“And I think she discovers she can be the ogre and be happy with the skin that she is in and not think of it as a curse, which is what we portray in the story. We have to tell everyone in the audience, children and adults, that this is what the story is – but we are going to change it.”

It might seem a family musical with a storyline that would hardly tax a toddler but there is much more to the role than that for Brookes.

She said: “I love it. I am challenged every day. Mentally I am challenged as well. The script and the score is just there for you. I just have to say what is there.

“It is very natural, from the heart and if I just came on stage on autopilot I would not be doing it justice whereas I get to come on stage every day and discover something new every night.

“On the first might in Birmingham I was discovering something new again and again in every scene because the audience were discovering something. There were laughing at certain things and I too that away for myself and I love that about Birmingham as I am already being tested by the audience, never mind the script.”

Arriving in Birmingham again Brookes is finding the Hippodrome big and modern. “I think we have found our niche, I think we have found our favourite and I think we will relish the four weeks we are here and we are not going to let you down. You just enjoy the show.”

Roger Clarke

A dream role for Dean

Paddling to keep the Shrek swan afloat


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