Peeling back the layers: what the cancellation of “Shrek: The Musical” means to its cast and crew

March 27 at 7 p.m. was to be the opening night of“Shrek: The Musical,” presented by Maryville College’s Theatre department. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “Shrek” was canceled.

Like others on campus who have lost important events to them, the MC Theatre students, faculty, and staff all grieve as they await to return to the stage. While their hard work didn’t make it to opening night, it is still recognized by the cast, crew and faculty of the Theatre department.

“To the cast and crew, I would like to say a huge thank you,” said Dr. Heather McMahon, a professor of Theatre at MC and producer of “Shrek.”

Millie Rochelle singing as young Princess Fiona in “I Know It’s Today.”

Pictured foreground to background: Melony Dodson, Millie Rochelle, and Justin Glinn

 “I am so proud of the hard work, the growth and the camaraderie that could be found both onstage and backstage during this process,” McMahon said.

Haylee Wilson, who was cast to play Princess Fiona, is currently a junior here at Maryville College. To the rest of the cast, she said, “You guys were an absolute dream come true and such a pleasure to work with. I miss and love you all so much.” Wilson’s favorite song to perform was “This Is Our Story.”

“It was one of the few moments that the full cast was on stage at the same time, and it was always so powerful when we all came together,” Wilson said.

Junior Diamond Cronan took on the position of Stage Manager for this production.

“I can not express how proud I am to have been a part of this amazing show,” Cronan said. “The depth that you all have achieved and the quality of the show you have produced is unmatchable in my opinion. I thank you all for allowing me to be a part of it.” She is very thankful to those who helped put the production together.

Shrek finds all the fairy tale creatures in his swamp.

Pictured left to right: Chris Sullivan, Bailee Burleson, Matt Lyscas, Brittany Barthlemess, Justin Glinn, Savannah Spangler, Riley Hamant, Kara van Veghal, Andrew Simmons, and Drew Hatcher

As the stage manager, Cronan’s job not only built her relationship with the cast but also with the crew.

To the crew, she said, “This show is ours. No matter how much stuff we planned for that did not make it to the stage, or the tedious process it took to get it as perfect as it looked, this show belongs to us. Do not think it was stolen, because this is still ours.”

Junior Dagen Pointer took on the role as the Assistant Technical Director. In this position, he assisted in running shop hours as well as the weekly production class and kept the building of the set moving in a timely manner.

To all of his crew, Pointer said, “I see you, and all the work you’ve put in. I see the stress, and the worry, and the doubt. I understand the face of despair when I put you on a project that is definitely going to suck, and you’re not sure you can do it. I understand that feeling that you’re unseen, because it’s easy to feel distant from the production when you’re not necessarily the one on stage. I am beyond proud of you.”

To those who are considering joining the department, Dr. McMahon said, “You don’t need any experience to audition or to be on a crew. Working in the theatre reinforces lots of skills that everyone needs: working with a diverse group of people, working on a budget, working under pressure and working creatively.”

“These are skills that will serve you whatever your plans after college may be, and there is no easier time than now to try something new,” McMahon said.

When asked what Wilson would say to anyone who wants to audition, she said “Do it, you will not regret it. I’ve been in four shows at MC, and each one has developed its own little family. I have built amazing relationships with the people I’ve met.”

“MC’s Theatre department is one of heart,” Cronan said. “I think theatre departments nowadays are too focused on commercial success and entertainment—not that we don’t have that too, but what we do have heart. Our shows mean something other than a good song or great acting. We stand for something more.”

Farquaad’s guards get scared by their first sight of Shrek (Gilnn).

Pictured foreground to background: Justin Gilnn, Aaron Capps, Christopher Rodriguez, Ryley Thames, Dionysis Siopsis, Cameron Freshour, and Drew Hatcher

As for the production side of the department, Pointer said, “If you sign up for 204, you’ve signed onto the fact that a strange boy in suspenders is going to love you. You get out of this class what you put into it, and what most of us have put into this is love and family. It’s not just signing up for a class, it’s signing on for a family.”

Wilson gives a special shout out to MC senior Suzanna Dye who played Gingy in the production.

 “Suz was always so supportive of me throughout the entire process from our audition to our final run-through, and she absolutely killed it as Gingy. She’s a true queen, and I’m going to miss her so much after she graduates this year,” Wilson said.

Cronan gives praise to MC freshman Christina LaFreniere who served as Cronan’s Assistant Stage Manager (ASM).

“[Christina is] the Donkey to my Shrek, my ASM and now one of my dearest friends. She kept me laughing during stressful times and was always down to learn. I love her dearly, and I could never thank her enough for all she did for me, the department and this production,” Cronan said.

Pointer gives a shout out to all of the Theatre Production students.

“I’m proud of everyone in 204, for learning new skills, for trying new things, for being a hand in tackling a monster of a project,” Pointer said. “From unique props, to costume pieces with such specific needs, to the folks who dug in and learned how to hang lights even though they weren’t for the show, and to everyone in that shop with me helping us get this show rolling: you’ve all done something worthwhile, and I see your hand in it.”

“It’s been an honor to be your Assistant Technical Director. Thanks for making my job a delight, and thank you for taking it easy on me while I adjusted to the scale of this position,” Pointer said.

As the Assistant Lighting Designer, I would personally like to give praise to not only my Master Electrician, Kelsey Effler, but also to my entire lighting crew. I am incredibly proud of each and everyone of you. Whether you are pursuing technical theatre or acting, I am honored to get to train as well as work beside you.

You all continue to amaze me with your talent and support. I trust that you all will continue to keep our stage lit as I watch from the audience. To the rest of the department, thank you for being a part of my senior year. Although I am not a theatre major, I appreciate you all for being my family. We will return to the stage soon.

One thought on “Peeling back the layers: what the cancellation of “Shrek: The Musical” means to its cast and crew

  • April 22, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    What a great article! The cast and crew were absolutely amazing! I love these students and faculty and the rest of the cast who made the entire experience extraordinary! We should do a concert version of Shrek if things ever normalize.


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