Premiering this weekend, “Shrek the Musical” is being performed by the SSHS Theatre Program at the Auditorium. Behind the curtains of the production, the students are faced with the task of taking on some of the most memorable roles in Disney history. Josh Thompson, a sophomore at SSHS, is playing the part of Shrek, the primary protagonist of the Musical.
“It’s big shoes to fill, from like Mike Myers, it’s a big role to take him on because he’s such a phenomenal actor,” Thompson said. “Also Brian d’Arcy James played him on Broadway. It’s a phenomenal experience.”
As with any actor taking on a unique role, Thompson has faced some challenges while adapting to the role of “Shrek”. With this production being a musical, more complications are added on for the actors and actresses involved.
“Kind of just getting into his demeanor is hard, you know he’s a sloppy guy and other things like that because that’s just not the kind of person that I am,,” Thompson said. “The accent is hard, but it’s fun singing in a Scottish accent. A lot of it is kind of difficult because it’s an accent and it’s not like I’m normally singing, but it’s really fun and I like it.”
Taking on the role of “Donkey” is Junior Carson McIllwain. Being the famously funny character from the Shrek Series, Donkey is another challenging role for McIllwain to take on, just as Shrek is for Thompson.
“Well, it’s hard to take on that responsibility, and you have to do it in your own unique way ,” McIllwain said. “Uniqueness itself is one of the key parts of characterization, so you have to make it your own Donkey, you can’t make it Eddie Murphey’s Donkey or Daniel Breaker’s Donkey or else it’s not acting it’s just imitating.”
The musical aspect of this production has left an interesting mark on the story of Shrek. Those involved have taken on the job of singing with gusto.
“I love it tremendously because I’m a devout fan of musicals,” McIllwain said. “Combining Shrek and musicals seemed like an odd idea at first, but then again Shrek is an odd show, and it’s just been a very enjoyable experience.”
Being an animal who possesses no hands, McIllwain has had to undertake extra practice to adapt to his physical restrictions on stage. Hoofs instead of fingers have given him an increased level of challenges to overcome.
“Being Donkey is difficult to grasp, literally and figuratively,” McIllwain said. “Because I can’t grasp anything. The hooves, I just have to deal with those. When I was practicing, I was having to point with clenched fists so I’d have to remind myself that I’m going to have hooves instead of hands .”
As the female lead in the musical, Sadie Evans, as “Fiona”, is will be joining Thompson and McIllwain in taking on famous roles for themselves.
“It’s really fun, I mean it’s a really big responsibility but I love the part,” Evans said. “Fiona is funny and quirky and awesome. I think that I put my own little twist on it, Sutton Foster was amazing so there were things that were like ‘oh I have to do that’, and with the movie I thought ‘oh I’m going to take that from that’ and I made it my own.”
With the relationship as characters that both Shrek and Fiona share, Thompson and Evans have had to recreate that connection as accurately as possible. The addition of musical scenes has added a new layer to this connection between characters.
“It’s fun working with Josh, we work together in a lot of stuff,” Evans said. “My favorite scene with the both of us is when we do the song ‘I think I got you beat’, it’s so much fun and we are just trying to top each other over and over again then we realize that ‘oh we’re kind of the same I think I like you’ so it’s fun.”
The primary antagonist of the play is being performing by Liam Pollard. His role as Farquad has been no small feet to accomplish.
“You see a lot of butts,” Pollard said. “Since your so short, having to crawl around on your knees, your eye level is at about the height of everyone’s waist. Overall, the Farquad in this musical is very different from the movie, he’s a lot more flamboyant and he has a back-story in the musical which he isn’t given in the movie.”
Shrek the musical will be showing on Saturday at 7pm, Sunday at 2pm, and Monday at 7pm. Tickets are $10 at the door or by purchasing beforehand at the school.