Alan Mingo Jr. is no stranger to performing in Broadway musicals that have transitioned from animated films to the stage.
Mingo has appeared in two Disney shows, including the mega hit “The Lion King” as Simba and Sebastian in “The Little Mermaid.” Now, he’s the fun-loving, wise-cracking sidekick Donkey in Dreamworks’ stage adaptation of “Shrek: The Musical,” which stops Tuesday at Arizona State University’s Gammage Auditorium.
But don’t expect a dead-on impersonation of Eddie Murphy, who voiced the character in the cartoon movie franchise.
“The pressure is high to make sure I get Donkey and get the spirit of him right, but also it’s important not to truly recreate what (Eddie Murphy) did,” Mingo said.
“Shrek” follows a green ogre, who shows up to rescue a feisty princess. The musical includes several new songs and features some characters that aren’t in the movie, which starred Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow and Murphy.
“People love this story so much because it’s about not judging a book by its cover and loving yourself in return,” Mingo said.
Empowerment also plays an integral part in the storyline.
“You don’t have to be a princess stuck in a tower, waiting for someone to rescue you, when you can do it yourself,” he said.
In addition, “Shrek” puts a spin on some fairy tales’ most famous personalities, including Pinocchio and the Three Blind Mice.
“The fairy tales that we loved forever are turned upside down on their head,” Mingo said.
The 2001 original Broadway production was nominated for eight Tony Awards. Like live-action movies, more animated films have become stage musicals over the years, some successful like Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and others that fall flat such as “Tarzan.”
But Mingo said he believes it’s just another way to allow audiences to experience live theater.
“This seems to be a new phenomenon these days, and many of them have built-in fan bases,” Mingo said. “But at the very end of the day, the music and plot must be good.”
Many of the sets and costumes are visually impressive, including a big dragon that chases Donkey around the stage.
“I get so excited every night when I have to run from the huge set piece operated by several puppeteers that it almost feels real,” Mingo said. “Just doing that makes me feel very proud to be a part of this show.”
Mitchell Vantrease may be reached at 623-876-2526 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: “Shrek: The Musical.”
WHERE: Arizona State University Gammage Auditorium, 1200 S. Forest Drive, Tempe.
WHEN: Tuesday through Jan. 9.
TICKETS: $23.50 to $71.50.
INFO: Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444 or www.ticketmaster.com; or Gammage box office, 480-965-3434.