THEATERMANIA: Do you play Shrek differently than your predecessor Brian D'Arcy James did?
BEN CRAWFORD: We do play the role differently. I would say my Shrek is a little more cynical, a little grumpier, and more short with Donkey. It's an exciting part to play - in that Act I finale where Shrek pours his heart out, it's fun to be able to show the audience that he's really a sweet little ogre.
TM: Did you watch the movie to help you with the character?
BC: I watched the movie a lot. I don't know if I would say that I relate to the character, but I understand where he's coming from and his situation. I mean, if people are just going to be yelling at you and frightened of you your whole life why would anyone live with you? It makes sense that he lives alone and he's forced to go on this trip. When he falls in love with this Princess, it's kind of like the nerd falling in love with the homecoming queen -- but the nerd finds out that the homecoming queen is also a nerd. Shrek has a line at the end of the show: "Beauty ain't always pretty." I think that's a really good thing to take from the show. It's a great message to cast off stereotypes.
TM: What's been your experience with your castmates?
BC: First of all I adore everybody in the cast. The first time I went on I was freaking out because I was gonna be on stage with Sutton Foster. She came in and said "I know you're ready. Let's just have fun!" She's so good at what she does she should be in the dictionary. Chris Sieber could tell you the most depressing news but you'd still laugh because he's so funny. Daniel Breaker is so quick and so smart. As an actor you hope you're not delivering the same performance every night and with people like Daniel and Sutton, you're not going to; they're so good at what they do that we can relax and give a great show to the audience but also keep ourselves engaged.
TM: Are you always recognized at the stage door?
BC: No. And sometimes the people who have been waiting are a little awkward. They ask me: "Did I just see you play Shrek? Because I'm not sure."