Shrek, the cranky swamp-dwelling ogre living in a faraway kingdom, might get the princess in both the DreamWorks film series and Broadway musical, but off stage, the fairytale goes slightly differently. In this story, it’s Peter Pan that sweeps Princess Fiona off her feet, marrying the fair maiden and living happily every after. Actors Denny Paschall and Haven Burton, who are both starring in the touring production of the stage musical as Peter and Fiona, decided to write their own love story last month when the two got married in a small ceremony in Los Angeles. Keeping in the tradition of a fractured fairytale, the couple was married by Lord Farquaad, or at least the actor that played the villainous character on Broadway, Christopher Sieber.
The happy couple’s entire relationship has been built around the world of Shrek, as the two first met while doing an early workshop of the then Broadway-bound musical, they fell in love while performing in the out-of-town Seattle production. So, when the New York production closed, Denny and Haven were more than happy to travel around the country with the touring production, now playing at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles.
“We had let the producers know that we were interested in going out on tour before it closed on Broadway,” Denny told me before a recent performance of Shrek in San Diego, California. “When the show closed and Haven got the offer to play Fiona on tour, the idea to go on tour was a great opportunity for us to stay working together.”
Denny had been performing the role of Peter Pan in the Broadway production of Shrek while Haven was playing Gingy, the wisecracking gingerbread cookie, and understudying Princess Fiona. While their characters had little interaction on stage, the chemistry between the two was undeniable, although they tried staying low key about things for a while. “We were really quiet about it, so I don’t think any of the cast knew about our relationship until we got back to New York for the Broadway run,” Denny said.
Now, having traveled all across the country performing Shrek, the Los Angeles stop is a bit of a homecoming, not only for the musical, as its roots are at the DreamWorks studio in Hollywood, but also for Haven, who was born in Hollywood and raised in the Los Angeles suburbs. “Haven had seen a lot of shows at the Pantages Theatre while she was growing up, so we are both excited to be bringing Shrek here,” Denny said. “It’s a little bit nerve-wracking, performing for the DreamWork bosses, but it will be a lot of fun.”
Los Angeles also marks the last stop on the tour for the happy couple. Being on tour together has given them a lot of time to make memories together. When Shrek played Denny’s hometown of Denver, Colorado, in November of last year, he took the opportunity to propose to Haven. “It was just me and her, a quiet moment, where I grew up,” he said.
Since then, they have been driving across the country, traveling together, along with a mini-family. “We have our two cats with us (Dunstin and Cedwick) so it has been like one long family road trip. And it’s been awesome seeing all of the cities with Haven,” Denny said, adding, “We are very family oriented.”
In fact, they were married in a small ceremony with family and friends in Haven’s mom’s backyard in a small ceremony. They got married on June 21st, the Summer Solstice, before taking a honeymoon in Fiji.
With their work in Shrek nearly over, Denny and Haven are hoping to keep acting together. “There are a lot of couples out on the road together,” Denny pointed out. “For us, that’s been our ideal situation. We don’t ever really want to be apart. We are not sure what comes next for us, but whatever it is, we will be together.”
For audiences, the last chance to see Denny and Haven together in the magical world of Shrek is at the Pantages Theatre, where the musical will be playing through July 31st. But, audiences have nothing to fear, because Peter Pan won’t be wooing Princess Fiona on stage. That love affair is left for the ogre.
I originally wrote this article for BroadwayDirect.com.