“Let Our Freak Flags Fly”: Shrek the Musical and the Branding of Diversity
Abstract

Abstract:

“’Let Our Freak Flags Fly’: Shrek the Musical and the Branding of Diversity” argues that DreamWorks used Shrek the Musical to exploit a generic theme of multiculturalism to extend the reach of the Shrek franchise and challenge Disney’s domination of the Broadway market. By bringing a political-economic analysis to bear on the study of commercial theatre, the essay shows that DreamWorks’s marketing strategy—diversification—provided the theme—diversity—for the product it was employing to implement that strategy. Yet because Shrek’s multicultural message is contradicted by the blatant racial stereotyping of Donkey, Shrek’s “jive-spouting sidekick,” the musical in fact epitomizes the contradictions that inform multiculturalism in the early twenty-first-century marketplace and functions as an unlikely emblem of the Age of Obama.