The Clayton Center for the Arts in its biennial partnership with the Maryville College theatre department is bringing “Shrek: The Musical” to life on campus this coming March. Production has been underway since early November, beginning with a lengthy audition process. According to the cast and crew, the show is ahead of schedule and bound to bring an exciting performance this semester.
“We almost have the whole show staged,” said director Doug James, “All except two numbers, which is crazy.” James, who has been directing plays and musicals for almost 17 years, claims that this kind of speed in putting together a show as large as “Shrek” is unprecedented. “This is probably the hardest working cast and crew I have had in all my years directing,” James said.
Director Doug James instructs and inspires his cast during a rehearsal.
Photo courtesy of Diamond Cronan.
With the promise of at least six show-stopping, Broadway-degree musical numbers, complicated choreography and more moving parts than can be counted on two hands, the rehearsal process has been intense for actors and creative directors alike. Three circulating steps have been utilized according to James, who begins his process by staging and blocking a musical number.
Following James’ staging, dance captain of the production Allison Parton will fine-tune and clean up the given choreography while James continues blocking smaller scenes, and musical director Melony Dodson teaches music in another room. At the end, all three come together to put the refined elements on stage as one.
The cast of Shrek prepares another show-stopping number.
Photo credit to Diamond Cronan.
Stage Manager Diamond Cronan describes ‘Shrek: The Musical” as a “monster of a show” with its cast of approximately 30 people, a live orchestra, moving set pieces and professional-grade lighting. However, Cronan affirms that the cast and crew are up to the task of slaying this particular dragon.
“Being able to see this show go from something that we thought it was going to be and turning into something we’ve made is beautiful,” Cronan said. “Seeing the show push itself and seeing everyone in the show push themselves with it is the coolest growth you get to see.”
Both James and Cronan made sure to reiterate that, although on the surface Shrek may appear to be a “kid’s show,” there is a deeper significance behind the fairytale costumes and green face paint.
“Being a high school teacher, I see so many kids out there struggling to fit into the world and wishing to be something they’re not, and that’s the journey of the show,” James said. “What makes us different is what makes us strong’; that message is essential to what is happening today. The kids are going to love it because it’s Shrek; it’s funny, but it’s for everyone.”
For those still on the fence, James also promises, “Even if you’ve seen Shrek before, on Netflix or wherever, you’ve never seen Shrek like this!” With reports of a 22-foot-long dragon puppet and rock concert laser lights being included in the performance, it’s sure to be one of the most elaborate and massive of Maryville College musicals to date.
“Shrek: The Musical” will be performed in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre in the Clayton Center for the Arts on March 27 at 7 p.m. and March 28-29 at 2 p.m. In the weeks leading up to the shows, students are encouraged to send in testimonials about how they “let their freak flag fly” by tagging pictures or videos with @shrekatmc and #ShrekYourself, which will be looped on screens outside the theater both before and after the show and during intermission.