By Richard Duckett WORCESTER TELEGRAM & GAZETTE
A number of songs have urged us to climb every mountain until we find our dream.
Lukas Poost was hiking up a mountain in Maine early last summer when his cellphone rang. The news was out of this universe. He had been hired as the title character for a new Broadway touring production of “Shrek: The Musical.” Poost had just graduated from college in May. It was a dream come true. On a mountain, no less. Or to put it another way, it was his first professional theater job.
“I felt literally and figuratively on top of the world,” Poost said. “It was a very cool, surreal moment.”
Poost has become weighed down since then, although not in a negative way. Shrek's costume weighs more than 45 pounds. Getting Poost made up for each show takes an hour and a half, he said.
It's a small world, even in the Kingdom of Duloc. Poost's makeup man, Michael King, is from Worcester.
He's told Poost he'll like his visit here when “Shrek: The Musical” comes to The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts for a five-performance run beginning Friday night.
The musical about a green ogre (Shrek) who goes initially against his will on an adventure in Duloc that ends up with him saving a princess from a villain and becoming a hero is based on the smash hit 2001 Dreamworks animated movie, which in turn was based on the 1990 book “Shrek!” by William Steig. “Shrek: The Musical” opened on Broadway in December 2008. The current national tour hit the road in September.
Poost was at a touring stop in Knoxville, Tenn., when he paused for a telephone interview last week.
Asked how he goes about portraying such a famous and recognizable character, Poost said he had always been a fan of the movie. “I knew what Shrek meant to me. I focused on the inner heart of Shrek. He's a guy doing what he's told to, thinking he's happy.” Little does Shrek know it, but he's “always been a hero. I focus on that heart, that tender side,” Poost said.
Growing up in the small town of Wyalusing in Pennsylvania, Poost pretty much always wanted to act and sing from the time he had been cast as Deputy Dan in a kindergarten production of “Deputy Dan and the Scrambled Eggs Gang.” There was a slight pause in his performing, something Shrek would have understood. “I was a really shy kid. It took a lot of courage to jump back in.”
Poost was in musicals in middle school, but said it wasn't until his home-schooled high school years that he really started to focus on drama. He appeared in local community theater productions as well as the annual musical at the high school he was affiliated with.
“By the eleventh grade there wasn't anything else I wanted to do,” he said.
He went on to study acting and musical theater at the Brind School at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, graduating last May.
During his senior year, the school put on a senior showcase in New York City before an audience of theater professionals such as agents, casting directors and producers. One of the people in attendance was the casting director for “Shrek: The Musical,” who was evidently impressed by Poost's efforts that day. Poost was invited to audition for “Shrek,” but then had to wait for the verdict. He decided to take a hiking vacation in Maine.
“And here I am. I've been very lucky this year. What a ride.”
As a show “Shrek: The Musical” is “a blast” Poost said, that has been connecting very well with audiences. However, the tour is scheduled to conclude in April, although there have been rumors of the run being extended.
Prior to being cast, Poost was planning to move to New York City but then didn't since he would be on tour all the time. “I could save on rent.” He said when the musical does end its run he will make New York his new home.
Something else he had picked up at the senior showcase in New York was an agent. For an actor just out of college, that can also be the stuff of dreams.
“Hopefully, we'll find a way to have this adventure go on,” Poost said.