|Photo by Tom Marshall
GRUMPY GREEN OGRE—Lukas Wilson, above as Shrek, is making his breakout in a lead role this year in the MCHS production of “Shrek The Musical.”
|Students will bring hit fairy tale/movie to life with presentation of 'Shrek The Musical'
|By Afton Fairchild Spencer
“Shrek,” the story of a grumpy green ogre who befriends a donkey before an epic adventure ensues, made its debut in theaters more than a decade ago. Now, it’s making its debut in the Montgomery County High School auditorium. While the characters and story will be familiar to many, this version of the tale will be accented with the vocal talents of the student body as the high school takes on “Shrek The Musical.”
“This show’s so fun,” senior Will Haydon, who plays Lord Farquaad, said. “It’s all about people, who might not be the same as everyone else, coming together and singing songs.”
In addition to the songs, there are quite a few other things that help this version of the story stand out from its big-screen counterpart.
“There are plenty of little surprises that I think the audience will really enjoy,” junior Miriam Turner, who plays Fiona, said.
Lukas Wilson is making his breakout in a lead role this year as he takes on the part of Shrek.
“Being able to be Shrek is really fun,” Wilson said. “Shrek has a lot of powerful songs because he’s been so independent his entire life, so I feel like I can really connect with the character.”
Junior Andy Cora will be playing the role of fun-loving Donkey. He promises the audience will get their money’s worth when coming to see the show.
“You are going to laugh your heads off,” he said. “It’s a hilarious show, it’s a great show and it’s a great challenge, but we’ve got a great cast this year.”
The cast agrees that this year’s musical has been challenging because of its high level of difficulty. Everything, from the sets to the choreography and music, is more advanced, which initially left some of the students concerned. On top of all that, the students have missed many opportunities for practice due to snow days and are performing 12 shows for the public, which is more than they’ve ever done with one of the largest casts of all time at around 50 members. Still, they don’t seem worried.
“This year, the respect for one another has really been strong,” junior Rylee Stafford said. “We’ve all gotten along so great because we all connect on a certain level so it just makes the show that much stronger as a whole.”
Even with all of the technical excellence that is expected to be on display this weekend, Debbie Arnold, who has been working with the musical for 24 years, said her favorite part about this year’s musical is the message and how it has resonated with the cast.
“They understand that it’s not just a funny show, it’s not just a kids’ show,” she said. “There’s a message. We all have value. It doesn’t matter what you look like, what color you are or anything about you. We all have value.”
The message that everyone has value no matter their background can also be applied to the cast and crew of the musicals, Arnold said, for all the hard work put in from everyone involved.
“I don’t think the public has any idea what amount of dedication and commitment goes into putting this on,” she said. “We deal with so many of these incredible young people, but there are no trophies. What these kids do get from this is so much personal satisfaction, growth and maturity.”
As with each musical, this will be the last for several cast members who will be graduating and moving on. For many, it will be bittersweet.
“During that final curtain call I know I’m going to cry,” senior Cathleen Samples, who plays Mama Ogre, said.
“I hope they understand how much they have meant to me, how much I’m going to miss them,” Arnold said. “But I know they’re going to go out and make their mark.”
One thing that keeps the spirits lifted for those who will be moving on is knowing that the future of the musical is in good hands.
“I’ve been surprised about how much talent we have,” senior Hogan Gagle said. “There are so many of these underclassmen who are so talented that I know in the next few years, it’s going to be crazy.”
“The freshmen are already giving the seniors and juniors a run for our money,” Samples added.
The students encourage everyone to come out and watch the show this weekend, whether it’s to witness the new talent, see the veterans off or just to have a good time that’s fun for the whole family.
“Come to the show, because while you’re coming to see us for entertainment, we also need you to be there,” Wilson said. “The directors are always telling us we have to live up to the legacy. We understand that now, but we do it for the audience because it’s the audience who comes to watch us and keeps the legacy going.”
“Shrek The Musical” runs from April 17-19 at 7:01 p.m. nightly at MCHS with a matinee showing at 1:30 p.m. Saturday the 19th. Tickets are $8 for students and $10 for adults.
Cast members insist this fairy tale adventure will take you on a whimsical journey you won’t soon forget. As Haydon put it, “It’s the cheapest vacation you’ll ever go on!”