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Returning to the world of storybook characters was fun homework for the past three months for Larry Colgan and Linda Wilczynski.

The pair worked together to plan, design and create the costumes for the cast of 27 storybook characters for the new run of "Shrek: The Musical" produced by Marian Theatre Guild in Whiting.

"It's a great show to do costumes for, especially since it's been during the Halloween season when we were working on it," said Wilczynski, who lives in Whiting.

"And since I had the role of the Sugarplum Fairy in the show, I got to help dream up my own costume."

Last weekend, Marian Theatre Guild, 119th Street and Lincoln Avenue in Whiting, opened its new production about Shrek the green ogre, Princess Fiona, funny friend Donkey and all the fairytale creatures of storybook lore and it continues through Nov. 16.

It's based on the 2001 Academy Award-winning DreamWorks film and the book by William Steig, the basis for the Broadway musical adaptation that played Chicago in July 2010.

The nearly three-hour, one intermission production is directed by Shelley Seagraves Crosby and stars Darren Serhal in the title role, with Kelli Manigrasso as Princess Fiona and David Arroyo as Donkey.

And behind the cape and attitude of the biggest "little" role for the guise of the story's villain, Kevin Bellamy is cast as Lord Farquaad.

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"I had never seen any of the stage runs of this musical, so it was all very new to me," said Bellamy, who lives in Hammond.

"We had seven weeks of rehearsals to prepare so we really each got to know our characters well to give them lots of personality."

Bellamy had to learn how to cleverly disguise his legs to create the illusion of his character's tiny frame on stick-like legs.

"Even before we got to dress rehearsals, I was already working on my bended knee pose so I would be ready for what to expect once I was in the special cloak and cape for my costume," he said.

The many fun props for the show were created by Susan Bobas, of Munster, who is also in the show, and was the talent behind the gingerbread man puppet, as well as a range of smaller creations to even the large, pink towering dragon who looms over key scenes.

Besides a message of acceptance (sprinkled with some nudging push-the-envelope humor for adults), there are plenty of carefree entertainment moments of musical silliness.

"Kids love this show because it's about familiar themes they know," said Serhal, who said he has now become used to his glowing green skin.

"Everyone can learn something from this story and still have fun along with the characters' journey."

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