The Many Layers of Shrek the Musical
With the opening night of Shrek the Musical just around the corner, the audience is probably anticipating the inspiring storyline, the funky musical numbers, and the variety of fairytale creatures that are in store for them! However, have you ever wondered what all goes into creating a show where most of the characters aren’t human, like a talking donkey, a green ogre, or a gigantic dragon? Student Theatre Director Kelsey Celek revealed some aspects of what it takes to create a musical filled with magical creatures.
“It’s hard to put a finite number on the process, but it takes around six weeks,” she said. Kelsey explained that the creative process is very spread out; it consists of reading the script and listening to the music multiple times, analyzing the children’s book, and researching how QCT could practically bring the mythical creatures of Shrek to life.
When asked what some challenges were to working on this production, Kelsey said, “A lot of people that will come to see the show will have only seen the movie and will expect to see some kind of cartoon. But what we want to do is make our own interpretation of Shrek and be able to tell people our version of this story.”
One of the most difficult characters to interpret by far has to be the famous dragon of Shrek. The dragon being used for QCT’s production of Shrek is actually rented from the Zoot Theatre Company, which specializes in puppetry and masks. Made primarily out of PVC pipe, foam and fabric, the puppet (which the cast has affectionately named Felicia) is designed to be lightweight and move quickly around stage.
In the show, the dragon is operated by Savana Santos, Olivia Clayton, and Emily Huseman, controlling the head, body and tail, respectively. Savana, who also acts as the voice for the dragon, said that it was very exciting to have such a unique part in the production, “Normally when you see puppets, they’re just tiny hand puppets; but this one is 10 ft. long, so it’s really cool,” she said. “But I didn’t realize how weak I was until I had to carry that head around the stage for so long.”
While some of the cast gets to portray unusual fairytale creatures, some of the cast gets to portray unusual humans. The most unusual human is definitely the infamous Lord Farquaad, played by JT Atwood, the show’s villain with a major Napoleon complex. JT is actually one of the tallest cast members of the show, which has brought laughs to the cast and crew since he is portraying the character known for his extremely short height.
JT said, “I think it’s really funny playing a short character, I’m not used to being so close to the ground. And I love how out there [his personality] is.” While he did say being on his knees for the whole show was tiring, he’s very excited to see how the audience will react to his small-scale transformation.
Camden Scifres, who will be portraying Shrek, also said he has to take on a whole new physicality for his role. “You have to walk differently, and place your hips and back in a weird way, but it’s a nice challenge that makes me push myself every day,” he said.
While all the fairytale creatures, eye-catching sets, and musical numbers are sure to captivate the audience, the cast is hoping that people of all ages will be inspired by the underlying message of the musical. Camden said, “So many people are silenced and made fun of because they’re told they’re different. Shrek is about being who you are and letting your freak flag fly, which is a message I think everyone should hear.”
You can see the Shrek the Musical Cast let THEIR freak flags fly February 5th thru the 7th at Quincy Community Theatre!