If you’ve only ever seen the Shrek movies, you’re missing out on one of Shrek’s strangest little factoids: Shrek’s real age. Sure, technically the hero’s age doesn’t really matter. After all, he’s a giant ogre with green skin, so he could age differently from humans. But in case you’ve ever found yourself wondering exactly how old everyone’s favorite swamp-monster is, Shrek The Musical has a compelling answer.
Shrek The Musical debuted on Broadway in 2008. The show follows the story of the original movie, but in some earlier versions, there was a larger emphasis on Fiona and her backstory. In the show’s pre-release script, the opening song even included Fiona being sent away by her parents to the tower at the same time Shrek was sent away to live in the swamp.
One version of the show’s opening song, “Big Bright Beautiful World,” actually parallels the childhoods of Shrek and Fiona. We see the two of them very briefly make contact with each other, shortly after Shrek gets sent away by his parents and just before Fiona is sent to her tower. Here’s how it played out on stage:
We can actually go a little deeper than just staging here. While we know from the first song’s lyrics that Shrek is actually seven, we’re never explicitly told Fiona’s age. At least not directly. But if we dig into the musical’s script, we get a brief character note that tells us that young Fiona is also seven.
Even though most of these moments that paralleled the childhoods of both Shrek and Fiona wound up getting cut from the final show, it seems clear that the musical intended for us to believe that the two were roughly the same age. But knowing that they’re the same age doesn’t quite tell us how old they are when they meet.
For that information we have to go to Fiona’s song, “I Know it’s Today.” The song starts with Young Fiona alone in the tower, reading fairy tale books and dreaming of the day that she too is rescued by a prince, as she counts away the number of days she’s been locked away. As the song goes on, Fiona gets older and counts more and more days until finally adult Fiona, the one that Shrek saves, arrives and sings the line “day number, 8,423.”
After one quick Google search, we can say that adult Fiona has been in the tower for a little over 23 years. Add that on poor Fiona’s age when she was first locked up and we find out that she’s somewhere around 30. So assuming she and Shrek are the same age, since that’s how the musical positions things, it’s safe to say that he’s about 30 as well.
Of course, you could always make the argument that Shrek The Musical isn’t technically part of the Shrek movie canon. But that would be no fun and Shrek being in his 30s does seem to match up with our brief glimpse of human Shrek in Shrek 2, so we think it’s pretty accurate. Thank you for your time.