Student actors, dancers and singers hope to successfully take a hit movie from the silver screen to the big stage at Fort Mill High School this week.
“Shrek The Musical” opens Wednesday. The musical adaptation from the 2001 movie “Shrek” features characters and songs both children and adults know and love.
The story follows Shrek, an unsocial ogre, as he tries to save his swamp from being taken over by other fairy tale creatures who were banished from their homes. On his way to see the man in charge, Shrek makes an unwanted donkey friend and together they journey to the capitol of Duloc. There, Lord Farquaad tells him he can have his land back if he saves Princess Fiona from her castle prison guarded by a fierce dragon.
The story has it all, including a happy ending and plenty of catchy tunes.
It was enough to make theater teacher Elizabeth Williams take a chance on a musical her students couldn’t get enough of.
“When the kids started talking about it and singing the songs from it and talking about how wonderful it was, then I started listening to it, and we really thought we had a group of kids who could handle it,” she said.
It was really a production chosen and driven by the students.
“They pretty much inspired us to come up with the idea to do it,” Williams said.
Williams and choral teacher Katie Dierkes are directing a cast of 52 performers along with 10 crew members and six musicians. Williams said the most challenging part so far has been coordinating every aspect of the production from the sets and costumes with dozens of different schedules. There was also one other unexpected curveball.
“This time of year, we weren’t expecting this, but so many people have been out with the flu,” Williams said.
Despite the illness and hectic scheduling, the show will go on beginning Wednesday night and Williams expects a few surprises.
“There are some kids that have leads in this production that have never had leads before,” she said. “They just came out of the blue at auditions and they were amazing. I just can’t wait to see them shine.”
It’s watching the students develop from auditions in January that’s one of the most rewarding parts of Williams’ job, she said.
“They’re going to surprise a lot of people who didn’t know they could sing, much less sing, and act, and dance on top of that,” Williams said.
Williams said the musical will be familiar to people who have seen the hit movie. But her production has one big difference from the one that hit Broadway and countless other stages worldwide – the role of Donkey.
“This part is always played by a man,” she said. “(But) we had a girl who just knocked our socks off.”
Williams said the family-friendly show still has plenty of humor for adults.
“It’s entertaining and safe for the kids, but the adults will enjoy it as well,” she said.
Katie Rutland: firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to see the show?
Fort Mill High School’s Studio E presents Shrek The Musical 7 p.m. March 9-12 and 3 p.m. March 13 in the school auditorium. Tickets are $8 students/$12 adults, with $5 student tickets on March 10.