With the news that Shrek The Musical might be coming to Australia DanceLife went straight to the show’s choreographer Josh Prince to clear up the rumours and tell us how he went from being an unknown choreographer to choreographing a Broadway musical!
You have had a varied career in Musical Theatre from playing Carmen in the Producers to being in Cats. What has been the highlight of your musical theatre performing career to date?
I was really lucky to have many different types of experiences as an actor. I’ve swung shows, understudied leads, played leads, been the guy who dances, been the guy who doesn’t dance, been the funny one, been the straight guy… you name it. Lots of varied opportunities for sure on Broadway, Off-Broadway, Regionally… even some film and tv. But I have to say, my absolute favorite job was doing FORBIDDEN BROADWAY. There was such a freedom in it and yet, it was super challenging. I have always been drawn to comedy and the outlet this show provided me was really wonderful. Also, the company of comics I shared the stage with made the job all that much more enjoyable. We just had a blast every night.
Making the move from dancer/performer to a successful choreographer is one that only a few do. What was the moment that you decided that you would make the move to choreographer?
I don’t think there was a “moment” because I always knew I would choreograph and direct. Ever since I can remember I knew this about myself. But I had moved to LA after a successful run playing Carmen Ghia in THE PRODUCERS there. I decided it was a very good time to try my hand at film and television and see what came of that. During the following two years I didn’t even think about musical theater and had no idea what was going on on Broadway. But as I waited for the film and television employment that never came, I directed quite a few projects out there and around the country. I even produced an album for a good friend of mine. It was during this time that I realized that the type of joy I got from the type of creation involved in direction and choreography was a more substantive, long lasting type of joy than the one I got when I was acting. So when I moved back to New York I decided that I would put my energy into pursuing it more full time.
Your appointment as Choreographer for Shrek the Musical was quite out of the blue. Can you explain how this job found you?
The job really did find me… quite fortunately. When I moved back to NYC after living in LA, I applied for a rather prestigious showcase called DANCE BREAK. Dance Break showcases six choreographers each year who want to break in the Musical Theater industry, in particular. I was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of these six. The fateful day we all presented our material, the director of SHREK was in the audience. Turns out, he hadn’t found what he was looking for yet and three weeks later he offered me the job. Needless to say, it was life changing.
Tell us about the casting process you went through to find dancers for the show?
The casting process for SHREK was pretty rigorous, mainly due to the vocal demands of the show. Not only did these folks have to act well, be funny, be unique character types and dance well, they had to sing their faces off. So much of the challenge (and the continued challenge) when it comes to casting this show is finding those people who can dance well in, let’s say, a pig or bear costume and still sing this rather challenging material. So the team tends to go on rather exhaustive searches in order to cast this particular show. The demands of this musical are just super high so it makes the casting process a very tricky one, indeed.
What was the biggest challenge for you when choreographing Shrek the Musical?
The most challenging part of creating any new show is that it goes through so many incarnations on its way to being completed. And with each incarnation you have to erase your preconceived notions and begin again with a clean slate. You have to always be willing to throw out things you love and recreate based on new direction, costuming, set design, script rewrites, music rewrites, etc. I learned to really let go of my attachments to any one specific outcome and/or product. My job is to work as part of a team, and it is always challenging getting a large team of people to agree on one specific product.
There are rumours that Shrek is coming to Australia in the next two years. Can you shed any light on this?
I wish I could! I would LOVE to come to Australia!! My fingers (and toes) are very crossed. I sure hope the rumors are true!
For more information on Josh visit his website