Photo: Dreamworks Theatricals (All Dreamworks images are press kit images and are used with permission.)
Shrek The Musical: cast announced, rehearsals begin
September 28, 2017
Lead actors top list
Save the date, Ada High! Shrek The Musical is coming to a swamp near you this fall (Nov. 16-18).
The Ada High performing arts, cast, core and administration aspire to produce another show stopper. The musical has been cast and rehearsals are just beginning. The students are all in agreement, anxious and thrilled to be preparing and performing Shrek for the public.
The Tony-award winning show hit Broadway in 2013 telling the tale of an ogre, Shrek, who discovers his swamp has been infested with fairytale creatures. The name “Shrek” itself is German for “fright” or “terror,” which doesn’t entirely seem to be the case in this story. After a deal is made with Lord Farquaad, Shrek must endure a perilous, self discovering journey in order to regain his home. Who would’ve thought a donkey and a princess could give a stubborn ogre such a new perspective.
The movie itself is intended to poke fun at typical “Disney fairytales,” as is the musical; subtle references from classic Broadway shows such as The Lion King and Wicked can be found all throughout the performance.
Performing Arts Director, Merrie Palmer is one of many ready to get this show on the road.
“There are 61 cast members, some playing multiple roles, who are all doing a phenomenal job. It’s going great,” said Palmer.
Shrek will be played by senior Mitchell Galbreaith. This is his first year of performing arts at the high school and his first lead role.
“I’ve got a pretty decent Scottish accent already from practicing growing up. I’m trying to portray the character as well as the Broadway show did,” said Galbreaith. “As far as talent goes, I think Ada High has one of the most talented casts it’s ever seen.”
Human Fiona will be played by junior Maggie Hood while Ogre Fiona will be sophomore Annie Dunlap. The pair have been working together to perfect their roles, costumes, and acting. As a whole, the cast is confident in their ability to work well together and are prepared to give it their all.
Dunlap said, “I think Shrek is perfectly cast. Palmer looked at every single aspect of the show from singing, acting, and dancing, and could not have done a better job.”
The performing arts are taking a new direction with this year’s musical as opposed to previous productions. “Shrek” breaks away from your run of the mill fairy-tale where past performances such as “The Little Mermaid” and “The Addams Family” are both seen in a standard Broadway light.
“Everybody loves Shrek, it’s not your typical musical,” said Hood.
Other leads such as Ben Muse (Lord Farquaad) and Brittnee McComas (Donkey) have continually expressed their excitement for the show.
“I am so stoked, words cannot describe,” said McComas. “I hope everyone comes to see it.”
Muse hopes to not fall “short” of his role, Lord Farquaad, and is ready to take it on. Rehearsals are said to be helping greatly for every character individually in order to put on a great performance altogether.
Muse said, “The few rehearsals that we’ve had have gone really well. Shrek has its own feel to it and will appeal to all ages. With the cast and commitment we have, it will be a great show.”
The musical can be found on Netflix, for those who want a sneak peak of what’s in store for Ada High.
Mark your calendars, the wait is almost “ogre”!
Fairytale Core finds happy ending
The key elements to pulling off any successful performance include the lead actors, supporting cast (core), and the production crew. As Ada High continues to prepare Shrek The Musical, the fairytale core is hard at work.
A “core” is a group supporting roles that handle the majority of the backup songs and dances of a production. While still having their own performances, these characters help move the story along and further engage the audience.
The fairytale core in Shrek adds onto those responsibilities by helping each scene flow naturally as well as making the audience experience a range of emotions. They rely on each other and operate as one throughout the musical.
“We do everything together like a unit,” said Josh Frederick (Pinocchio).
Like an onion…or an ogre… this quick-witted musical has many layers to it. Every character, core or lead, shares the same job of learning lines and stage directions. They work diligently during rehearsal in hopes to live up to everyone’s expectations of Shrek, both the movies and the Broadway production; the fairytale creatures are a trademark and are iconic to the Shrek story.
“I like to consider fairytale core the backbone of the musical,” said Eric Crowell, one of The Three Little Pigs. “We’re part of the foundation.”
Additionally, with any great cast, there’s a great director helping it all come together.
According to core members such as Rylee Shurtleff (The White Rabbit), director Merrie Palmer has been a huge help during rehearsals.
Shurtleff said, “She sets us straight, and pushes us to be the best we can be.”
The core overall is considered the “Herald” archetype in this particular “Hero’s journey.” They motivate the hero, Shrek, into action, which ultimately weaves the first thread of our tale.
The story begins when Lord Farquaad banishes the fairy tale creatures to an ogre’s swamp. This ogre, Shrek, is outraged by the infestation and is sent on his way to the kingdom where things continue to unfold.
“Without fairytale core, the show loses the story,” said junior Valeria Oseguera (Mama Bear).
Some students such as Izy Wilkerson, have a slightly different job on their hands. The sophomore will be playing the dragon, a role that comes with its own set of challenges to conquer.
“My part is somewhat of a solo act; I have my own little special spot,” said Wilkerson. “I’m trying to put more soul into my singing and let loose to really capture the whole dragon essence that comes with being this big scary creature.”
The core itself includes characters anywhere from Fairy godmother to Peter Pan and the cast agrees that each role adds to the musical whether it be by humor, song, or strife.
“Core is a very important thing. Every single role is important,” said Shurtleff.
The students are confident in their ability to prepare their parts and put in the work to produce a great show.
To put it best, in the words of Frederick, “People are going to freaking love Shrek.”
Dance Core leaves it all on the floor
Shrek The Musical is a complex piece. Every scene touches on many aspects of your standard fairytale and the show itself is filled to the brim with excitement. However, a musical can’t have song without dance; it takes two to tango. Thanks to Ada High’s dance core, Shrek the Musical will be jam packed with entertainment of all forms.
Similar to fairytale core, a typical dance core works together as a whole to help push the show where it needs to go. Dance core is in charge of learning and creating dance numbers to a majority of the songs in a musical in order to bring the show to life and personify the plot.
“We do all of the big dance numbers,” said sophomore Katy Kemp. It’s not your typical musical theater dancing like the Charleston or Jazz Squares. Without the dance numbers, any musical lacks the ‘umph’ that brings it all together.”
The core started learning and choreographing dance routines as soon as casting was announced. They work countless hours, in and out of rehearsals, and are consistent in their effort.
Dance core captain, Jersey Gregory is one of many students anticipating Shrek the Musical. Dance core is a group effort and Gregory believes they have what it takes to be amazing.
“I help with choreography, assist in leading rehearsals, and I work with the group with any problems or questions they have,” said Gregory. “Dance core blows the show out of the water.”
Additionally, some students have been provided the opportunity to dip their toe in dance core as well as play another role. For instance, Gregory will be playing the Pied Piper and sophomore Tyler Brassfield will be featured as a guard and a dancer throughout the musical.
Brassfield said, “The dancing really pulls in more humor; it’s more comedic to have dancing alongside the singing.”
A majority of the core has been dancing for years which provides an admirable level of professionalism. According to senior Amy Vallin, dance core operates like a well oiled machine. “We run through the numbers in rehearsal like it’s the real deal,” said Vallin. “We’re very adamant on dedication and synchronization.”
Shrek The Musical rehearsals are almost over and showtime is just around the corner. Performing Arts Director, Merrie Palmer, has been consistent and supportive during the students’ path to performance. The cast agrees that as they continue to rehearse, they have become more confident and proud of the show they are preparing thanks to their director.
“Mrs. Palmer has been the most significant factor in getting our set, choreography, and blocking done. She’s the cornerstone.”
The performing arts are highly anticipating the musical and aim to bring the house down. Opening night for the public is Thursday, November 16th at 7:30 in the Ada Cougar Activity Center. Come “Shrek” it out!
Stage Craft/Crew put it all together
In order for Shrek the Musical to go off without a hitch, the stage hands are behind the scenes making it all happen. Stage craft has been building set since August, painting and constructing various buildings and backdrops to bring Shrek to life; everything you see on stage is thanks to their effort and dedication.
At the beginning of the year, stage craft students divided up their responsibilities into sections: Duloq, Farquaad’s chambers, the dragon and the dragon’s lair, Fiona’s tower, Shrek’s swamp, the barn, and the forest. From there, the sets and props had to be built, painted, and decorated to provide the full effect.
“If you don’t know how to use certain tools, Marty and Mrs. Palmer will show you how to use them, it’s really helpful.” said junior Kylie Laxton.
“Mr. Marty,” as the students call him, is Performing Arts’ right hand man. He works alongside Palmer to help build set and run tech.
While not singing and dancing, certain stage craft members have taken on multiple jobs in order to help Shrek run smoothly. Senior Westin Williams has spent time on and off stage, building set in class and running lights during showtime to further support the show.
“Instead of being backstage changing props, I am in charge of the lights and scene changes,” said Williams. “It’s really cool that I get to be a part of both sides.”
With showtime quickly approaching, stage craft has been putting the final touches on their sets. The paint is dry, the props are ready to go, and stage craft’s work is nearly complete.
In the world of theater, every show starts with a rising curtain. Backstage, Ada High’s stage crew is responsible for every scene change, every curtain, and every backdrop. Between scenes when the lights go out, stage crew has ten seconds to move the set and swiftly return to their previous responsibilities. Stage crew had to learn their part like any cast member learns their lines.
Stage Manager, Breanna Knighten is the head of the whole operation, controlling the main curtains and assisting with scene changes. Knighten is also a part of stage craft and understands the importance of both groups.
Knighten said, “Stage craft builds the set and stage crew moves it on and off the stage. It’s almost the same thing, just different aspects.”
Every component that makes up Shrek contributes to the overall performance. Stage crew makes sure the cast and cores can give the audience the show they came for. For example, Crew Chief Trystan Marshall is in charge of ensuring that everything gets put into place backstage.
“We’re working well,” said Marshall. “It’s just like we’re part of the cast; every show is a run through for us to rehearse and improve.”
As Shrek rehearsals are reaching a close, stage craft and crew feel that everyone’s hard work will pay off and Shrek The Musical will be a success. Don’t just take their word for it, go see the show! Performances for the public will be this Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday in the Ada Cougar Activity Center.
Don’t miss out! It’ll be “ogre” before you know it.