A Fairy Tale Role: Julia Udine on playing Fiona in SHREK THE MUSICAL

skrek the musical

Nichalas L. Parker and Julia Udine in SHREK THE MUSICAL. Photo by Mark Garvin.

Walnut Street Theatre’s production of Shrek has Julia Udine transforming between princess and ogre. Udine says playing the role of Fiona has been a fun-filled, fairy tale experience. Udine, who was last seen on the WST stage in Tell Me on a Sunday, has also appeared on Broadway as Christine Daaé in the Phantom of the Opera. She joins a cast of fellow Broadway veterans and WST alum in the award-winning musical based on the Oscar-winning movie.

Shrek The Musical is playing at Walnut Street Theatre {825 Walnut Street} now until January 5, 2020. https://www.walnutstreettheatre.org/

Debra Danese: What was your first professional theater job?

Julia Udine: My first professional theatre job was in an Off-Broadway original musical called Jack’s Back at T. Schreiber studios in NYC. This was the first show I was in when I moved to NYC at age 18. It was so much fun! From there, I went on to play Christine Daae in the 25th anniversary U.S. tour of the Phantom of the Opera and then moved into the Broadway production of Phantom!

DD: How did you prepare for the role of a fairy tale character? 

JU: Instead of thinking of Fiona as a fairy tale character, I really tried to just relate to her, because everything she is feeling is incredibly real and human.  She has so much depth and so much going on internally. She is so much fun to play because she’s not ‘just’ a princess, she’s really an ogre! She’s the definition of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” The show is so well written and her journey has so many ups and downs. It’s incredibly relatable, even though the circumstances may be heightened, and even though we are in the middle of a fairytale.

DD: Which of Princess Fiona’s characteristics do you most admire? 

JU: I love how strong Fiona is. I love how she learns to accept herself and be who she is with Shrek. I also love her big, silly personality! She’s not your typical fairytale princess. She’s flawed and imperfect and that is just so much fun to play.

DD: What is the costume and make-up process like to transform you into an ogre?

JU: I have lots of quick changes in the show, and a team of incredible dressers to help me get into my ogre costume and makeup! They are all very, very quick and I am so grateful for all of the help backstage!

DD: What’s your favorite thing about appearing at the WST?

JU:  My favorite thing about appearing at WST is that it feels like such a family. Everyone is so welcoming and supportive. Also, I am super close to my own family who live not too far away in Jersey! I have been able to spend lots of time with them, which has been wonderful, especially around the holidays.

DD: What’s your best advice for auditions?

JU: My best advice is to be yourself, and be prepared.  There are so many things that we cannot control in this business, but those are two things that we can control.

[Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut Street] November 5, 2019–January 5, 2020; walnutstreettheatre.org

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About the author

Debra Danese

Debra graduated with a degree in dance from the University of the Arts and also holds a B.A. in Arts Administration. She is accredited at the Master Level with the National Registry of Dance Educators. Debra has performed in Europe, Tokyo, Canada, and the Caribbean. She teaches and choreographs world-wide and has been an international guest artist in Switzerland, England, and Slovakia. Debra has been an Artist in Residence on five occasions in Norway where she showcased full length dance productions at the acclaimed Nordland Theatre. She has also presented an original dance production at the Elspe Festival in Germany. Debra has been featured in Dance, Dancer and Dance Teacher Magazines for her work in dance education. Additionally, she has been a contributing writer for Dance Studio Life Magazine since 2010.